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College creates supply for local job demand

COC’s Economic Development Division helps to train Santa Clarita Valley workforce

Posted: February 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Joe Klocko points out the detail on a chess piece that was produced in the 3D printer of the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies class room at College of the Canyons in Valencia.

 

The Economic Development Division at College of the Canyons understands basic supply and demand.

If a business is looking to move to the Santa Clarita Valley, the COC program is there to meet needs for consultation, training or employees.

Canyon Country resident Clarissa Noonan knows this as well as anyone.

Previously unemployed, Noonan found out about a need for CNC machinists through the WorkSource Center. After an interview process, she was placed into a Fast Track training program specifically designed to meet the job demand of local manufacturing companies.

“They had set up this class because there was a need for these jobs locally,” Noonan said.

After eight weeks of intensive training, she completed the training and was invited to an internship fair with local businesses requiring her trade.

“It was nice to have a few companies interested,” she said.

Now an intern with Aerospace Dynamics International, Noonan chose the company because her instructor was an employee there, and she had learned enough about the company to be sure it was a right fit.

To complete the same training at another school, Noonan said, would have cost her more money and a lot more time.

Working directly with clients and businesses, rather than the student population, the WorkSource center pairs trained employees with hiring business in as short a time frame as possible, said Peter Bellas, dean of the Economic Development Division.

If a local business wants to expand, requiring a trained labor pool in a new trade, the business can consult with the center to recruit or train that new labor pool, placing them directly with the company.

If an out-of-the-area business wants to relocate to Santa Clarita, but can’t find an adequately trained local labor pool, the center will call on one of its 100 contracted instructors to train local students and the unemployed, he said.

“What we do is significantly different than the rest of the college,” Bellas said. “It’s all about trying to get significant results in a shorter period of time.”

Students usually come to COC with a long-term goal — an associate’s degree or a certificate or units to transfer.
“Clients at the (WorkSource center) have short-term goals that affect a major difference in their professional lives,” Bellas said.

For example, Bellas said, if a local manufacturer needs experienced machinists, they have several choices. They can work through the division’s recruiting program, getting a search of the local labor pool for free, or they can look to the division to train interested students or unemployed residents.

“We would work with them to create a seven-week certificate program,” Bellas said. “About 75 percent of those students would get jobs a couple weeks after completion.”

The WorkSource center typically helps about 5,000 to 7,000 clients a year, Bellas said, or about 1,200 job seekers every month, and most are local.

Through a number of its training programs, the division can help provide training in manufacturing, information technology, digital media and healthcare, Bellas said.

And they can do it quickly.

Through its Fast Track Institute, the division can usher students through a process that would otherwise take much longer, meeting a business’ specific need. The process gets local people connected to local jobs, providing a direct service to both job seekers and employers.

Or the division can work with a company’s existing employees to train them on new machinery, providing the higher education for an entire population at once and getting the company the trained workforce it needs for a next step.

“We can also bring in experts to revamp how they do business,” Bellas said. “We can train line people, supervisors and managers, so the business runs more efficiently than it did in the past.”

In addition to the Fast Track program and tailored training services, the division also offers services through the Small Business Development Center, the Worksource Center and the Centers for Applied Competitive Technologies, each offering specialized services.

“We’re always doing new things,” Bellas said. “As things change and new technologies come out, we’re always on the lookout, so we can expose the community to cutting-edge technology.”

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