New Valley center to teach job skills


machine mechanicMODESTO —Opportunity Stanislaus, the county’s foremost economic development organization, is leading the way in training workers for future jobs.

According to the organization, 50 percent of the skilled manufacturing workers in Stanislaus County will need to be replaced in the next 20 years. One of the biggest concerns local businesses have is finding qualified, skilled workers for modern industry.

On Feb. 28, Opportunity Stanislaus announced it is opening a new training academy, Valley Occupational and Learning Technical Institute, or VOLT.

“This is a training center that will be driven by business to produce high-quality candidates that have been vetted through a three-pronged approach to training,” said Opportunity Stanislaus CEO David White.

The first part of the program is a two-week course on foundational skills, or boot camp, where students will basics such as how to work on a team, how to behave in a workplace and proper communication.

The next three weeks is basic business skills.

“They’ll be taught things like lean principles, Six Sigma, agile project management, team building exercises, etc. to give them the competency in basic business skills,” White said.

The third part is a 12-week course on a specific technical skill. The first skill taught will be for maintenance mechanics, which will include basic skills on machine repair, maintenance, diagnostics and basic industrial skills.

VOLT’s first year, which will begin in the fall, will graduate two classes of 25 students each with plans to expand the following year.

VOLT was patterned after training centers established by businesses in other parts of the country. Like those centers, VOLT was driven by local businesses including E&J Gallo, Foster Farms, Stanislaus Food Products, Pacific SW Container, Conagra, DelMonte, DMC, Reza Lopez Foods, PMZ, and SCOE and Beard Land and Investment.

VOLT will be housed in the Modesto Bee building in downtown Modesto. It will be run in partnership with the Stanislaus County Office of Education. The trainer will be Gary Beaudette, a former employee of the auto parts company Parker-Hannifin Racor.

VOLT will charge tuition. The amount has not been decided, but there will be financial aid available.

“We want the candidates themselves to have skin in the game because they’ll be better students and more motivated if they also have some involvement in the tuition,” White said.

(Updated with correct spelling of Gary Beaudette’s name.)


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