Locally Grown: How Victor Valley Nurtures Local Talent

Partnerships in the region train locals to fill available jobs.

By
Lindsey Hyde
On Sunday, January 17, 2021 - 13:35
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Students in the Victor Valley have a leg up when preparing for a career. In fact, many are cutting out one step altogether – the job search.

How is this possible? Well, thanks to partnerships between local businesses, education institutions and the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board (SBCWDB), students are learning skills in the classroom and then applying them on the job, working for companies in the region that have open positions.

For example, Victor Valley College (VVC), SBCWDB and General Atomics, a defense and diversified technologies company that produces a series of unmanned aircraft, created the Electronics Technician Apprenticeship Program, which offers a paid, hands-on opportunity for students to learn the skills necessary to work on remotely piloted aircraft. Once applicants are accepted, they are granted a full-time position with General Atomics and begin a two-year training course made up of classroom work and on-the-job training.

For over a year, the program has been in place and has worked well, says Frank Castanos, director of community, contract education and workforce programs at VVC. The program launched its first cohort in 2019 and has since started two more. 

"Our pass rates are high, and students are able to retain the information better," Castanos says.

Once students finish the program, they have obtained the equivalent of journeyman-level status, and General Atomics increases their salary.

"There are a lot of trade and manufacturing opportunities here in our local community that, with some additional skillset training, will allow them to have a livable wage without relocating outside of the area," says Anita Tuckerman, who serves on the SBCWDB and is vice president of asset services & corporate relations at Stirling Development, the master developer of the Southern California Logistics Airport (SCLA) in Victorville.

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Eric Reed

New Training Center

Thanks to the High Desert Training Center, which opened in April 2020 at the SCLA, even more career training programs are being added. A recent program developed provides training for facilities maintenance engineering-type positions. The center results from a partnership launched between VVC, Stirling Development, Prologis Inc. and the SBCWDB.

"Having the High Desert Training Center here means that our local people can work during the day, attend classes to sharpen their skills, or, as in the General Atomics program, they can work a little bit and go to class a little bit," Tuckerman says. "They aren't having to make that commute outside of our area to get training."

In addition to these opportunities, the region also boasts the Made in the High Desert showcase, an annual event that allows manufacturers, teachers and school administrators to discuss how to link classroom lessons with skills that are in high demand as well as connects high school students with local manufacturers offering careers in well-paying jobs.

Together, these programs strengthen the area's talent pool, prepare young people to fill current and future jobs available in the region, and encourage individuals to stay in the Victor Valley.

"After a short training or apprenticeship program, some of those young people are going into positions that are making $70,000 a year. In the High Desert, that's a very livable wage and potentially makes you a homebuyer," Tuckerman says. "It works for the young people, it works for the community, and we have to help the businesses continue to grow their own so they can sustain, as well."

If you'd like to learn more about the Victor Valley area, check out the latest edition of Victor Valley Economic Development