For some organizations in the San Joaquin Valley Christmas came early this year. The gifts are in the form of the 2018-19 California State Budget, which includes a $1 million investment to expand training for high-demand careers in manufacturing, one of the region’s most critical industries.

The funding will support the expansion of an education and training partnership between Modesto Junior College, Stanislaus County Office of Education, and Opportunity Stanislaus to prepare students for jobs based on employer demand. This partnership is realized through VOLT Institute, which launched in October 2017 and saw the graduation of its first class on June 27. Funding for the expansion comes from the California Community Colleges Strong Workforce Initiative, targeted toward providing training that meets documented labor market need in the community.

MJC will invest grant resources directly into program equipment at the downtown SCOE training facility for use by the VOLT Institute and MJC to expand its fast-growing manufacturing training. VOLT currently offers a comprehensive Industrial Maintenance Mechanic program that takes 10 months to complete or a 3-month Certified Production Technician program. MJC offers various maintenance and repair programs, including industrial electronics and automation, manufacturing, machining, welding, and agricultural mechanics. The expanded partnership between MJC, SCOE, and VOLT is a tiered training model in which students can get entry-level training that leads to a skilled job and return for additional training for a higher skilled-job. The college is developing a process to assess skills and award credit for the training that students complete at VOLT, enabling students to then continue on their career pathway.

Opportunity Stanislaus Chief Executive Officer David White has been lobbying local lawmakers to help with the center since VOLT was just a vision he conceptualized with investors to solve a workforce issue in 2015.

“We are very appreciative and excited about the state’s support for VOLT Institute,” said White. “We have come so far so fast as the community embraces the value of this training… and are proud many of the students have already found jobs.”

Scott Kuykendall, Assistant County Superintendent noted, “Regional programs that offer specific, technical training are in high demand. By delivering skilled training, VOLT is simultaneously meeting the needs of job seekers and industry.”

Henry Yong, the Chancellor of the Yosemite Community College District, calls the multi-tiered partnership “a creative approach to fund workforce training for community residents. Everybody is a winner in this partnership: students, training institutions, and employers.” Yong also noted that once employed, the former student trainees bring a better future to their families, and make a greater contribution to the local economy and tax base.

The expanded training will support local employers that are eager to see more graduates equipped with the skills needed to fill vital, now vacant positions in the local workforce as maintenance workers continue to retire. Students who complete training at VOLT or MJC programs will work on the same high-tech equipment at use in facilities throughout the county. The state grant will also serve as a 40 percent local match required to obtain a $2 million federal Economic Development Administration grant to further expand the MJC/SCOE/VOLT training partnership.

Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) was pleased with some of the state’s funding finding a local home. Additional local funds went toward homelessness services, auto technician education in Atwater, and a facility dedicated to helping children with congenital heart defects. Assemblymember Gray represents the 21st Assembly District, which includes all of Merced County and portions of Stanislaus County.

VOLT is now enrolling students for the Certified Production Technician class starting on July 27 as well as the next Industrial Maintenance Mechanic class beginning in September. To register or to learn more about VOLT Institute please visit or call (209) 566-9102.

MJC manufacturing classes begin August 27th. For more information, visit MJC.EDU/Now or call (209) 575-6789.