Five Northern California colleges, including American River College, have been awarded a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to support apprenticeship programs in the region.
The grant will fund programs that will work toward creating a model for advanced manufacturing apprenticeships, cultivating a partnership with local industries and increasing training to meet employment needs.
Along with ARC, the College of the Siskiyous, Cosumnes River College, Sierra College and Yuba College are also taking part in this program. The Los Rios Community College District spearheaded the effort for colleges to be awarded this grant.
Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, has voiced strong support for the program.
“Helping students within the Los Rios Community College District learn more about the manufacturing sector in a hands-on environment will deepen their experience and strengthen their readiness for a career in the field,” said Matsui in an email to the Current. “This program is a testament to the unique and worthwhile benefits that a secondary education from Los Rios provides to its students.”
The program aims to train or retrain 1,000 workers for job openings in Northern California.
According to U.S. Department of Labor, the job openings filled by the program will help to reduce the number of H-1B visas issued.
An H-1B visa allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations on a temporary basis.
The primary partners students are training to work for include Siemens USA and TriTool, both manufacturing companies.
Advanced manufacturing, welding, mechatronics, machining, stainless steel and robotics welding are some of the industries that the program targets.
Los Rios Chancellor Brian King highlighted what the grant means to the bigger picture for Los Rios.
“It’s a big step forward,” said King. “It means a lot for our region that we were able to secure $5 million in a very competitive grant process.”
Matsui stressed the importance of the program in cultivating a workforce for manufacturing jobs in our region.
“We need a workforce that is prepared to meet the jobs of the 21st century, and apprenticeships like the ones being made available through this grant are building that workforce,” she said. “It is an important step in aligning our educational curriculum with our region’s workforce needs.”
Pre-apprenticeship professor Rich Stoker highlighted the ability of the faculty to point students in the right direction as one of the most important aspects of the program.
“We’re here to make sure that (the students) end up in the right apprenticeship,” said Stoker. “We don’t want to invest in a student to study carpentry and then they decide they want to work in electrical.”
ARC pre-apprenticeship student Clarissa Ochoa mentioned how amazing of an opportunity the program provides.
“It’s a really good opportunity and I was so not going to let it slip through my hands,” said Ochoa. “You learn a lot here and it really opens your eyes.”
King praised ARC for its involvement with the apprenticeship grant and their reception of the three $1.1 million TRIO grants earlier in the year.
“There are great things being done by this (ARC) faculty,” said King. “I’m really proud of the leadership at ARC.”