VOLT and MJC programs get $1 million grant. It could mean higher-paying jobs for area

 

Almost $1 million in federal grant funds will boost occupational training at the VOLT Institute and Modesto Junior College.

The Economic Development Administration approved the $980,750 grant for Opportunity Stanislaus, whose mission is improving economic vitality in Stanislaus County.

The grant money will purchase cutting-edge equipment used in training programs at the VOLT center and MJC.

The VOLT Institute on 13th Street trains young adults to work as maintenance mechanics in local industries and has a career accelerator program. The trade school was created through a partnership between Opportunity Stanislaus and the county Office of Education.

“The feedback we keep getting from employers is that our program is solid but that having equipment in the classroom similar to the machines students will be using in the field after graduation is essential to their success,” said David White, chief executive officer of Opportunity Stanislaus, in a news release.

MJC also is adding training equipment for its career technical education programs that partner with high schools.

Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, managed to get $1 million for the local training programs in last year’s state budget, and that money served as a match that’s required for the EDA grant. The Economic Development Administration is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, urged the EDA to approve the application for building a skilled work force in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. The agency’s competitive grant process has resulted in only one other grant award for the region: $140,000 awarded to Riverbank in 2010.

Warren Kirk, chief executive officer of Doctors Medical Center, said in the news release that the federal grant is “a great example of what our region can accomplish when we work together in support of economic development.”

Gap is bringing 600 jobs to the Fresno area

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Gap Incorporated is set to begin hiring for the 2019 holiday season which will bring more than 600 jobs to the Fresno area.

The company has announced its plans to hire employees for a range of seasonal opportunities including sales associate positions, customer relations representatives and shipment coordinators at distribution centers.

It is hosting a one-day hiring event Saturday, October 5, at all Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and other Gap incorporated locations across the United States from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Most contingency offers will be made immediately after interviewing at the hiring event.

All seasonal associates will also enjoy the same merchandise discount as the company’s current associates, just in time for holiday gift-giving.

Liberty High School working on new Career Technical Education facility

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) — In the Madera Ranchos, off Avenue 12 something big is coming.

A small sign is sharing the news, “Coming Soon; the new Liberty High School Engineering, Agri-Science and Farming Academy,” known as LEAF.

It will be the first facility of its kind in the Golden Valley School District.

Seven new classrooms, four barns for livestock, three shops and greenhouses are just some of the major additions coming with the expansion. All of it benefiting the agriculture department, community and beyond.

“It is just a culmination of everything coming together and that shows that when this community is behind something, it ends up happening,” said Golden Valley School District superintendent Rodney Wallace.

Ag teacher and department head Anne Deniz said currently they are in need of more resources to meet student needs. She is a former Liberty High student and according to her, one of the biggest demands is space for livestock.

“When we have our livestock animals at students homes or they are sharing homes with each other it can be a five, six, eight hour day get to them all and weigh and see them and check up on those projects,” she said.

The new facility also means more classroom space and for Mrs.Deniz that’s a big deal. One of her classes involves making floral arrangements, her students also run a flower shop.

Currently, the school has about 560 students and only three Agricultural teachers. Ag is big in the community and Principal Felipe Piedra said the new facility will create new opportunities.

“We are pretty excited about that for our kids to be able to get some training and education here locally and preparing them for the bigger world,” he said.

The LEAF academy was funded through bond and grant dollars. Initially, it was slated to be completed in 2025, but it is all coming together much sooner in the year 2022. The district expects to break ground sometime next year.

https://abc30.com/education/liberty-high-school-working-on-new-career-technical-education-facility-/5450336/

State, local leaders tour Merced Unified’s CTE programs

 

 

By Sara Sandrik

Monday, September 16, 2019 8:27PM

ATWATER, Calif. (KFSN) — Atwater High School has the largest ag education program in the country, with everything from floral design to diesel mechanics.

Monday, students and teachers had a chance to show why they’ve been successful and what state leaders can do to support districts across California.

From welding to woodwork to horticulture and more, Atwater High had a chance to show State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond how students here are improving their academic and career skills.

“It’s really great exposure and getting all these higher officials who kind of control what we have as a school and what we do as students to really appreciate our program and what just students can do,” said high school senior Sophia Rhodes.

Thurmond was invited to the Merced Union High School District by Assemblymember Adam Gray and was joined on this tour by State Board of Education Member Ting Sun, Senator Anna Caballero, and several local leaders.

“All this equipment that you see that you would expect adults to be driving and getting paid, no these are run by students,” said Dave Gossman.

“I hope to get some ideas today as we walk around and talk to the local experts, and I’m really proud of Merced, the Central Valley, agriculture, and the Merced Union High School District, for all the great things we’re doing,” Gray said.

The district has been at the forefront of the statewide shift toward career technical education and currently offers more than 30 different CTE pathways.

Starting with the class of 2020, all MUHSD students are required to complete at least two CTE courses.

“It’s important for our college-bound students so they understand and get a little exposure to industry before they go to college so they might have a better idea of why they’re going to college,” said Superintendent Alan Peterson. “And then students who are going into the work world, we want them to leave us with those skills.”

Thurmond spoke about the recent increases in state funding for public education and CTE but says more can be done to ensure students are ready for bright futures in high demand fields.

“This is a great opportunity. Every student in our state should have this opportunity, and I’m committed to oing everything I can to make sure that happens,” he said.

https://abc30.com/education/state-local-leaders-tour-merced-unifieds-cte-programs/5544604/

Multi-million dollar project aims to clean Fresno’s air, improve neighborhoods

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — From the soon-to-be cleaner air, you can see workers installing a landmark.

The solar panels on a southwest Fresno home represent the first step in a multi-million dollar journey for the city of Fresno.

“It feels good to see the first project get off the ground and benefit residents, but the best part is it’s going to allow residents to continue having affordable living in Fresno,” said City Councilmember Miguel Arias.

Jose Ledesma owns the home, but his family’s budget was getting squeezed by the high cost of electricity.

He says that in the past he’s had very high utility bills and he anticipates the installation of solar it’s going to drop significantly.

GRID Alternatives installed the panels Saturday with money from a Transformative Climate Communities grant.

“The work that we do as an organization really affects people, planet, and employment,” said Jesse Arreguin. “It’s a win-win all the way around.”

The company is finding people who could use solar panels to save money in three zip codes — 93706, 93721, 93701 — in southwest, southeast, and downtown Fresno.

They’re training people to install them, and they’re cutting down on fossil fuel use.

The company has $1.9 million in grant money for residential installations, so they plan to do this about 60 more times, including some bigger projects like apartment complexes.

Ledesma’s home is the first domino to fall in a huge $200 million Transform Fresno plan.

“People are going to start seeing a lot of groundbreakings, a lot of shovel ceremonies and that’s a good thing because the money is being put back into the community the way it was intended,” Arias said.

An affordable housing project in Chinatown, a community garden, and a bike trail should also get started soon.

But the biggest project will be the West Fresno Center, a satellite campus of Fresno City College in southwest Fresno.

The city has five years to finish the projects if it wants to cash in on state grants to cover about a third of the total costs.

CSUB ranks among top in country in science field salaries

Cal State Bakersfield is in the top tier for salaries in the physical and life sciences in the country, according to a new report by PayScale.

The 2019-20 College Salary Report ranked CSUB at 75 of 543 physical and life science programs evaluated for the report, putting the university in the top 14 percent. Statewide, CSUB placed third in this area within the CSU system.

“Our graduates earn top salaries because employers recognize the value of a CSUB education,” said Kathleen Madden, dean of the School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering. “We are rightly proud of the role that we play in changing the future for our students while meeting the STEM workforce needs of Kern County and beyond.”

The annual PayScale report is based on the salaries of 3.5 million college graduates.

CSUB ranks among top in country in science field salaries

T-mobile, Sprint merger means jobs, high-speed internet access throughout the Valley


T-mobile and Sprint are seeking final approvals to merge. If that happens, a Customer Experience Center that would employ 1,000 people would open in Kingsburg.

T-mobile and Sprint are seeking final approvals to merge. If that happens, a Customer Experience Center that would employ 1,000 people would open in Kingsburg. T-MOBILE PHOTO

California’s Central Valley is vast, encompassing all or part of 18 counties, and is a dominant agricultural region in our state. Despite its prominent role in contributing to our state’s agricultural production, this region is often overlooked when it comes to economic development.

We have a chance to change this — if the state can look to the future and seize the opportunity right in front of us. Discussions on the merger of T-Mobile with Sprint have led to T-Mobile making a number of significant commitments that would have a positive and lasting impact on the Central Valley and the state of California as a whole.

We have reason to be hopeful here in the Valley. The merger has secured the approval of almost all of the regulatory bodies necessary to finalize the deal. The Department of Justice is the latest to convey its approval, joining the Federal Communications Commission and state utility regulators from 18 of the 19 states required.

Of particular importance to the Central Valley is the commitment by T-Mobile to build a new Customer Experience Center in Kingsburg. The center would create approximately 1,000 new jobs in a region that is still trying to recover from the Great Recession. These are good, well-paying jobs with benefits, and applicants need only a high school diploma or GED to qualify. Given the rate of unemployment and underemployment for this particular subset of job seekers, this is very good news. High school graduates simply do not have many options in the Central Valley. Kingsburg and the surrounding communities will also benefit from the increased economic activity these new jobs will bring to the area.

The merger also addresses an issue that has existed for years: the lack of infrastructure to support high-speed broadband access to rural communities. For example, updating and expanding mobile infrastructure in rural communities is critical for the future of our agriculture industry. Farming is being revolutionized by innovations in technology. Remote monitoring of crops and livestock, better decision-making based on data, and the ability to target irrigation and fertilization of crops are a few examples of how tech is making agriculture more efficient and sustainable. “Smart ag” devices use mobile broadband, but these tools are only as good as the networks available to them. 5G will enable farmers and ranchers to use this technology, keeping California’s ag industry strong, efficient and environmentally sustainable.

When T-Mobile announced it would make a significant investment in the Central Valley as part of its merger with Sprint, we were hopeful and optimistic their efforts would address the lack of broadband infrastructure in this region. Expanding 5G will connect the Central Valley with the rest of California, allowing this region to compete for jobs. In fact, with our lower cost of living, the Central Valley is an attractive place for tech firms to expand or locate their businesses, but we need the digital infrastructure first.

We are encouraged by the governor’s interest in developing economic opportunities in the Central Valley. The Customer Experience Center is a great example of these opportunities turning into reality.

We’d like our state officials to be Valley’s corner and welcome a visit from Attorney General Xavier Becerra to tour the area and see what an impact a project like T-Mobile’s Customer Experience Center would have on our residents. Diversifying our local economy is important to the future of the Central Valley. So is expanding high-speed broadband access, which in an increasingly digital economy takes on even greater importance. Without it, the digital divide will expand for our people.

With so much happening in our region, it seems as though the Central Valley is at a turning point. If we are able to move forward with the opportunities for growth and development and the T-Mobile merger is part of the turning point, we foresee a much brighter future for our communities, our young people and our businesses.

Michelle Roman is mayor of Kingsburg; Victor Lopez is mayor of Orange Cove and chairs the Central Valley Latino Mayors and Elected Officials Coalition.

https://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/readers-opinion/article234224602.html

Amazon acknowledges new facility north of Bakersfield

By John Cox

The Bakersfield Californian

August 15, 2015

When Amazon was trying to get approval to build a massive distribution center next to Meadows Field Airport, the company’s approach was so stealthy that senior Kern County officials reviewing its permit application did not know they were actually dealing with the Seattle-based e-commerce giant.

Even after county officials told reporters one year ago this month that Amazon was coming to town, the company known for its secrecy chose to remain publicly silent about its plans for Kern.

All of that ended with an email exchange Thursday.

“Amazon absolutely acknowledges this project,” spokeswoman Shevaun Brown wrote to The Californian, “but we do not have any new information at this time.”

She was unable to provide a projected opening date or a time when the company will begin hiring people to work at the four-story building that has been under construction since October along Merle Haggard Drive. But she did confirm some details that have already been reported, clarify a misperception and fill in some important blanks.

The company, Brown noted, intends to employ 1,000 full-time, full-benefit jobs when it opens the building, which she said measures 640,000 square feet.

That last detail comes as something of a surprise. Several people have estimated the building’s size at 2.6 million square feet. But that assumes each of the four floors will offer the same amount of floor space, which apparently it will not.

County records suggest the building will house robots that will assist in the distribution process. Their towering presence will reduce the amount of interior floor space considerably. But it is still a massive building and one of the largest in Kern County.

Most of the jobs there will support “order fulfillment,” Brown wrote: “picking, packing and shipping items to customers such as books, small electronics, school supplies and home goods.”

She said there will also be jobs supporting the building operations in the areas of human resources, information technology and management.

Employees at the site will earn a minimum of $15 per hour and have access to comprehensive medical, vision and dental insurance “starting on day one,” Brown wrote.

They will also be able to enroll in a retirement savings plan, a program allowing employees to share their paid leave with their spouse or partner, and prepaid tuition covering 95 percent of the cost of courses related to in-demand fields “regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon,” she added.

Although she was unable to state when the plant might open for business, she did say hiring typically begins one to two months before operations commence — and that this launch typically takes 18 months to two years after the project is announced.

This timetable could suggest the building will begin distribution work sometime between February and August of next year.

The email exchange concluded with an implicit call for patience on the part of job-seekers.

“Even though a building may look finished on the outside,” she wrote, “we’re likely still constructing the different floors, etc.”

https://www.bakersfield.com/news/amazon-acknowledges-construction-project-north-of-bakersfield/article_91f52e16-ba3e-11e9-aacd-d3c1350830ef.html

T-MOBILE MERGER OK DIALS UP GOOD NEWS FOR KINGSBURG

Regulatory approval of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger clears the way for a 1,000-job call center for Kingsburg. Image via Kingsburg’s economic overview document, photo by Mike Miller with Guarantee Real Estate

Published On July 26, 2019 – 12:41 PM
Written By By TALI ARBEL And MARCY GORDON Associated Press

U.S. regulators have approved T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion takeover of rival Sprint, despite fears of higher prices and job cuts, in a deal that would leave just three major cellphone companies in the country.

The news also marks a pivotal step for a planned T-Mobile “Customer Experience Center” in Kingsburg that would create more than 1,000 new jobs and contribute $105 million to the local economy.

T-Mobile made it clear that the proposed call center’s future hinged on regulatory approval of the merger. The telecom giant also announced similar call centers would be built in Overland Park, Kansas, and Henrietta, New York, if the merger were approved. Adding the expansion of existing call centers, T-Mobile promised the creation of more than 5,000 new jobs by 2021.

The “New T-Mobile” promises to become one of the largest employers in Fresno County, with employees earning wages more than 50% of average for the region.

It’s also a feather in the economic development cap of Kingsburg, which has seen more than 25 news businesses open in the last two years.

“The Kingsburg area in Fresno County is already home to a tremendous amount of innovation, diverse talent and great energy, which makes it a perfect fit for the New T-Mobile!” said T-Mobile and New T-Mobile President Mike Sievert, in a statement from April. “Our new CECs will allow the New T-Mobile to expand the personalized service we give our amazing customers every single day as we continue to grow. We can’t wait to be a partner in the revitalized Central Valley.”

According to a Kingsburg economic overview document posted on the city website last week, the city has a number of active business incentive programs. These include development impact fee discounts as well as rebates for property and sales taxes. No specific site has been identified for the call center, so it’s not known what, if any, incentives T-Mobile might receive for the development project.

Friday’s approval from the Justice Department and five state attorneys general comes after Sprint and T-Mobile agreed to conditions that would set up satellite-TV provider Dish as a smaller rival to Verizon, AT&T and the combined T-Mobile-Sprint company. The Justice Department’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, said the conditions set up Dish “as a disruptive force in wireless.”

But attorneys general from other states and public-interest advocates say that Dish is hardly a replacement for Sprint as a stand-alone company and that the conditions fail to address the competitive harm the deal causes.

“By signing off on this merger, the Justice Department has done nothing to remedy the short- and long-term harms the loss of an independent Sprint will create for U.S. wireless users,” Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner said.

A federal judge still must sign off on the approval, as it includes conditions for the new company. The Federal Communications Commission is also expected to give the takeover its blessing.

Dish is paying $5 billion for Sprint’s prepaid cellphone brands including Boost and Virgin Mobile — some 9 million customers — and some spectrum, or airwaves for wireless service, from the two companies. Dish will also be able to rent T-Mobile’s network for seven years while it builds its own.

Dish on Friday promised the FCC that it would build a nationwide network using next-generation “5G” technology by June 2023. But Dish is promising speeds that are only slightly higher than what’s typical today, even though 5G promises the potential for blazing speeds.

The Trump administration has not been consistent in its approach to media and telecom mergers. While the government went to court to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner and then lost, the Justice Department allowed Disney to buy much of 21st Century Fox, a direct competitor, with only minor asset sales to get the deal done. Mergers between direct competitors have historically had a higher bar to clear at the Justice Department.

Sprint and T-Mobile combined would now approach the size of Verizon and AT&T. The companies have argued that bulking up will mean a better next-generation “5G” wireless network than they could make on their own. Sprint and T-Mobile have argued for over a year that having one big company to challenge AT&T and Verizon, rather than two smaller companies, will be better for U.S. consumers.

The two companies tried to combine during the Obama administration but regulators rebuffed them. They resumed talks on combining once President Donald Trump took office, hoping for more industry-friendly regulators. The companies appealed to Trump’s desire for the U.S. to “win” a global 5G race with China as this faster, more reliable wireless is rolled out and applications are built for it. They have been arguing their case for more than a year.

Meanwhile, the FCC agreed in May to back the deal after T-Mobile promised to build out rural broadband and 5G, sell its Boost prepaid brand and keep prices on hold for three years.

But public-interest advocates complained that the FCC conditions did not address the problems of the merger — higher prices, less wireless competition — and would be difficult for regulators to enforce.

Attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia have filed a lawsuit to block the deal . They say the promised benefits, such as better networks in rural areas and faster service overall, cannot be verified. They also worry that eliminating a major wireless company will immediately harm consumers by reducing g competition and driving up prices for cellphone service.

They are not likely to be satisfied by Friday’s settlement. None of the states involved in the suit were part of it. “We have serious concerns that cobbling together this new fourth mobile player, with the government picking winners and losers, will not address the merger’s harm to consumers, workers, and innovation,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.

Dish is largely a company with a declining satellite-TV business. It has no wireless business, but over the past decade it has spent more than $21 billion accumulating a large stock of spectrum for wireless service. The wireless industry has long been skeptical of Dish’s ambitions to actually build a wireless service, instead speculating that the company wanted to make money by selling its holdings to other companies.

Recon Analytics founder Roger Entner, a longtime telecom analyst, said in an interview before the Justice Department’s announcement — many terms had been leaked to the press beforehand — that the settlement was good for the incumbent wireless companies, as a weak competitor in Sprint is being replaced by an even weaker one in Dish.

Sprint, the current No. 4 wireless provider, has thousands of stores and other distribution points as well as a cellular network. Dish has none of that, although the settlement gives it the option of taking over some stores and cell sites that T-Mobile ditches over the next five years. Creating and maintaining a retail operation and network cost tens of billions of dollars, Entner said. He doubts that Dish could do that alone, as its core business is in deep decline, or that Dish could find a wealthier company to help it do so.

But New Street Research analysts say Dish could build a lower-cost network and provide cheaper plans for customers. Still, that could take years.

George Slover, senior policy counsel for Consumer Reports, also said in an interview earlier that the current structure of four competing providers works. He said it’s not the same to diminish that while enabling a competitor that doesn’t currently have the infrastructure. “Dish might become a competing network at some point but it’s not there now.”

Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank owns Sprint, while Germany’s Deutsche Telekom owns T-Mobile. SoftBank will continue to own 27 percent of the new, bigger T-Mobile and will keep some influence, but it will not control the company.

https://thebusinessjournal.com/t-mobile-merger-ok-dials-up-good-news-for-kingsburg/?utm_source=Daily+Update&utm_campaign=97dc7bf6e4-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_07_26_07_42&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fb834d017b-97dc7bf6e4-78934409&mc_cid=97dc7bf6e4&mc_eid=a126ded657

Training California’s Students for Well-Paying Jobs

BONNIE BROOKS JULY 18, 2019
photo - Professor Using Model to Train Nursing Students

California’s community college system is the largest provider of career education—also known as career technical education or vocational education—in the state. Career education programs play a critical role in training students, especially underserved and nontraditional students, for jobs that provide solid wages but don’t require a four-year college degree.

How can colleges identify these jobs? In a recent PPIC report, we compare occupational earnings to regional poverty thresholds to assess how future workforce needs connect to well-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. Other work by the Brookings Institute focuses on “opportunity industries,” in which good jobs—those that provide stable employment, middle-class wages, and benefits—represent an above-average share of the industry’s total jobs and are filled by workers with only some college training.

Opportunity industries are largely concentrated in fields that align with many of the community colleges’ career education disciplines, including business, engineering, health, information technology (IT), and public and protective services. A critical question is whether students are successfully completing programs that will prepare them for careers in these fields.

The good news is that over the past 20 years, there has been a consistent upward trend in the completion of career education credentials in California’s community colleges, with major gains observed in the last decade. This increase spans industries. Notably, more degrees and certificates are being earned in health than in any other discipline—this is important since health credentials are especially valuable in increasing students’ subsequent earnings.

Figure - Community Colleges Have Seen Steady Growth in the Number of Career Education Credentials Awarded

But not all credentials are associated with large economic gains. For example, in our analysis of wage returns, we find that career education credentials in business and IT do not provide much of a wage boost.

Furthermore, there seems to be a mismatch between the awards with the most value and the awards students are earning. While awards from longer programs generally tend to confer more value than those from shorter ones, completion of short-term awards has increased in several career education disciplines.

Community colleges and industry partners need to work together to ensure students have a path to well-paying jobs and the tools needed to succeed. As shown in our research, some of that work begins with colleges structuring effective pathways to these industries and clearly communicating the economic returns and opportunities available to students.

Moreover, strong partnerships between community colleges and nearby industries will be essential in creating a bridge between students and their industry of choice. Ultimately, these efforts can help improve the economic well-being of individual students and the state as a whole.

https://www.ppic.org/blog/training-californias-students-for-well-paying-jobs/