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Even in a pandemic, Fresno EOC Valley Apprenticeship Connections (VAC) is still going strong. The program has made remarkable strides in the past year, such as completing the first cohort at the Central Valley Training Center and reaching a milestone of 315 VAC graduates successfully getting jobs in the construction industry.

“I’m very proud of the growth of our program and staff who have worked tirelessly to change the lives of the students we serve,” said Jeff Davis, Training and Employment Services Division Director.

Gregory Stanton graduated from Central Valley Training Center and received a job offer after a few weeks. He was in the first cohort to graduate from the center, preparing students for careers in over ten various trades.

Cohorts include 16 weeks of classroom instruction, industry-specific certifications, and job placement assistance. VAC provides applicant screening, orientation, assessment services, and facilitates the Thinking for Change curriculum. Students leave with improved soft skills, communication, and conflict management skills.

“The curriculum helps you learn how to deal with conflict on your job site; I find myself learning to think before I speak, and I’m more aware of the way I interact with coworkers, family, and friends,” Stanton said. “Previously, I would have reacted one way to a situation, but now I take a step back to evaluate my surroundings.”

Stanton was excited to take what he learned from his time at the Central Valley Training Center and apply it to his work now. Graduates receive more than five industry-specific certificates, including Occupational Safety and Health Administration 10 and Forklift certifications.

“This opportunity has been a blessing,” Stanton said. “I was able to get a good-paying job with a pension, and I believe this program gave me the help I needed. The certifications I earned and my experience gave me a one-up during the hiring process. It’s a good class, and I’ve recommended it to my friends.”

In the past year, VAC has renewed its partnership with the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the Department of Social Services (DSS). More recently, VAC expanded existing contracts with the Fresno County Probation Department and State Center Community College District, allowing more youth referrals into the program.

Within the last month, VAC has been actively renewing and expanding existing contracts with the Fresno County Probation Department and State Center Community College District to continue pre-apprenticeship training to participants referred by these agencies. Last week the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board (FRWDB) notified VAC that their 12-week pre-apprenticeship training was included on the State Employer Training List. Placement on this list means residents can access this training opportunity through enrollment into any Employment and Training Services programs funded by the FRWDB Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA).

Enrollment in a WIOA funded program allows participants to become eligible to have their training tuition costs paid for by the program. With the recent success and growth of VAC, our community will benefit and provide more job opportunities to youth. If you or someone you know is interested in training opportunities with Fresno EOC VAC, click here.

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