Learn how training programs in the region are attracting a highly talented workforce.
A driving force behind the Victor Valley‘s economic growth is the Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA), a multimodal logistics airport that caters to industrial, manufacturing, aviation and aerospace companies. A number of well-known companies have operations at the SCLA, including Boeing, GE Aviation, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) and Newell Rubbermaid.
The SCLA serves primarily as a maintenance, flight testing and R&D facility as well as a distribution center for the region’s growing manufacturing, logistics and aviation industries.
Growth in those sectors has sparked a number of partnerships between industry and higher education to ensure a pool of skilled workers are available to fill high-demand jobs.
To help meet growing workforce demands, GA-ASI, a leading manufacturer of remotely piloted aircraft systems, radar and electro-optic and mission systems solutions, worked with Victor Valley College (VVC) to secure the California Apprenticeship Initiative New and Innovative Grant Program, which creates apprenticeship opportunities for unmanned aircraft system electronic technicians.
GA-ASI and VVC hope the program creates a career channel that results in a highly qualified workforce within the region’s aviation and aeronautical industry.
“GA-ASI projected that there’s a need for an incoming pipeline of eligible workers and sought to tap into our High Desert residents,â€ says Robert Sewell, the college’s director of marketing and public information officer.
One result of those efforts was the creation of the joint grant project to form the Electronic Technician Apprenticeship Program (ETAP), which seeks to fill more than 100 full-time paid positions with related supplemental instruction and on-the-job training.
VVC offers 34 certificate and 44 degree programs that lead directly to in-demand jobs in the Victor Valley. Sewell says VVC is able to help employers fill jobs by ensuring students are receiving the skills local businesses require. Plus, the college has 15 advisory committees – made up of industry members, employers, students and faculty – that meet at least once a year to evaluate its programs to ensure they are on par with equipping students with the skills they need to succeed in the area.
Steve Muir, director of field avionics for GA-ASI, says VVC plays an integral role in helping prepare, educate and train local residents for jobs offered by companies like GA-ASI.
“Specifically for the ETAP project, VVC adjunct faculty will provide related supplemental instruction to equip apprentices with necessary and relevant theoretical knowledge prior to the on-the-job training component for the electronic technician occupation,â€ Muir says.
Sewell says training local talent for in-demand local jobs has a direct impact on the Victor Valley economy.
“Several employers at the SCLA that provide maintenance and storage for aircraft have repeatedly had to import employees to accommodate their workload, so it wasn’t local residents earning aviation salaries,â€ he says. “Now (graduates of these programs) are contributing and strengthening the local economy, as opposed to temporary workers taking their money back to wherever it was they lived, and residents are able to work where they live, saving time and money, which they can now spend here.”
In 2019, the SCLA developer Stirling Capital Investments and Prologis Inc., a leader in logistics real estate, donated a building at the SCLA and partnered with VVC to develop a training program they hope will lead to more trained workers for logistics careers.
“We have an opportunity to work with our local manufacturing, transportation and logistics industries, among others, to better understand the skill sets businesses need today and for the future. The goal of the new training center is to be responsive to what will propel the economy of the High Desert region forward,â€ says Daniel Walden, VVC superintendent-president.