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I currently write for The Press-Enterprise’s Foodie Empire blog, contributing recipes, reviews and other food-related musings. To view my author page with a complete list of entries, please visit http://blog.pe.com/author/jessasbury/.


Press Releases

Chaffey College manufacturing partnership trains local workers for Inland jobs
Manufacturers Council of the Inland Empire grows to 35 members


PRLog (Press Release)Feb 28, 2012 -
Rancho Cucamonga (February 27, 2012) — From the California Steel Industries in Fontana to the company that produces Maglite flashlights in Ontario, the Inland region has a rich history in manufacturing. Over the years, through the Manufacturers Council of the Inland Empire, Chaffey College has helped nurture that workforce by training thousands of individuals to enter the manufacturing sector.

The Manufacturers Council of the Inland Empire is a collaboration of college faculty and local manufacturing companies that identifies areas where there is a need for training, then addresses those needs by adjusting curriculum offered through the college’s Workforce Training Institute.

“The council concentrates on workforce development issues that all manufacturers in the area face and looks to solve those issues through workforce training,” said Kathy Dutton, the director of Economic and Workforce Development for Chaffey College.

Now 35 members strong, the council boasts a mix of manufacturers from steel to logistics and includes San Bernardino Valley College. Employees completing one of the training programs are likely to earn up to 18 percent more than the average Inland worker, she said.

The council held its first annual Manufacturers Summit Feb. 10 in Ontario to bring together representatives from regional manufacturing firms. More than 400 people attended the event, which included a networking session and panel discussions on industry challenges.

“The steel companies that we started out with were competitors, and now they’ve come together around the same table to address the need for craftsmen,” Dutton said. “It’s a perfect blending of resources.”

Sandra Sisco, the college’s business liaison, said the sold-out summit was the first of its kind in the region. Next year’s summit is already in the planning stages and could include all of Southern California, she added.
“The success of the summit just shows that everybody’s on board to raise awareness and develop our workforce,” Sisco said.

The council was formed in 2005 when Chaffey College identified manufacturing as a growth area for employment in the Inland region. The council itself is run by members of the manufacturing sector, and the college works to both implement and pay for training through several public funding streams.

The two main sources of funding are San Bernardino County’s Workforce Investment Board and the state of California’s Employment Training Panel, which Sisco calls “the best kept secret” in employee training because so few manufacturing firms are aware such funding exists.

Nearly 850 workers have gone through training at the institute in the last year alone, receiving instruction in subjects such as mechanics and human resource skills.

Dutton said one of the main goals of developing the area’s workforce is to keep companies hiring from the pool of local workers instead of looking out-of-state or overseas for qualified applicants.  “It’

s not fiscally prudent for these manufacturers to go out and hire someone from abroad because they may only stay a few years,” she said. “They want people who have ties to this region, and they want to keep the tax dollars here. They want to home grow their craftsmen.”

Study finds solar industry could add 18,000 jobs by 2015
Centers of Excellence projections show workforce opportunities throughout California


PRLog (Press Release)Feb 10, 2012 -
Sacramento (February 9, 2012) — A study released by the Centers of Excellence finds that job opportunities in the solar industry are expected to increase by up to 40 percent in the next three years.
The “Solar Industry & Occupations:Distributed and Utility-scale Generation” report also looked at the availability of community college courses and programs educating potential employees for the solar industry in California. The researchers concluded that community colleges statewide have responded adequately to solar employment demand, with at least 54 colleges statewide providing some type of training.
“Anecdotally, we heard colleges had difficulty matching graduates with jobs, and from conversations with some of the companies, we knew they had a lot of applicants per position,” said Evgeniya Lindstrom, one of the report’s authors and the director of the Inland Empire & San Diego/Imperial Center of Excellence. “What colleges need to do now is diversify their offerings to address other skills needed in the solar workforce.”

California is home to 3,500 solar firms employing 25,000 people today. The report projects that the state could add as many as 18,000 jobs to that number by 2015. Manufacturing and distribution firms are projected to grow the fastest, increasing by 40 percent and adding 5,500 jobs in the next year.

The field of distributed solar generation, defined as small-scale, decentralized installations, is expected to witness the most growth. Within this field, nearly 2,000 firms in California specialize in installation, manufacturing and distribution. Among these, the installation subsector employs the most people and is projected to add 8,000-10,000 new jobs by 2015. Employment in the utility-scale industry, which encompasses large-scale projects generating over 1 megawatt, will add about two jobs for every planned megawatt of a project, with most short-term construction jobs.

The report found that the community college system alone is meeting and potentially exceeding the market demand for solar installers in California. It was estimated that between 1,700 and 3,300 students would graduate from solar installation programs in 2011, while projections indicated a need for about 2,300 solar installers in that timeframe.

Research also suggests community colleges need to expand the knowledge areas of their existing programs to other solar occupations since the demand for photovoltaic installers has been met. The greatest challenge listed by community college administrators and faculty surveyed was a lack of employment opportunities for students. The study recommends community colleges develop and offer courses on the basics of energy production, power plant management and solar technologies. These concepts are particularly relevant for colleges in Inland Southern California and the Central Valley.

The report focused on the solar industry within three regions of California: the San Francisco Bay Area, Central California (including the Central Valley and Central Coast) and Southern California. The Greater Sacramento region was studied in a previous environmental scan published in July 2011, though some of those findings were included in this report.

Michelle Marquez, director of the Central Valley and South Central Coast Center of Excellence, is a co-author of the report. The Centers of Excellence collaborated with The Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) for this study.

The report can be accessed at www.coeccc.net/solar


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