At the InTech Center in Fontana, a cohort of 12 workers at California Steel is being retrained in a skill set critical to the company’s future.
The 640 hours of advanced welding training, supported by the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board (WDB), is about more than the hands-on experience and certification participants receive.
“What we’ve got here is a model for upskilling workers while helping companies retain valued employees — a win-win that strengthens our labor pool and helps to build an even stronger economy,” said Curt Hagman, chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. “Innovative workforce and business-development programs such as this have made our county a recognized leader in attracting new businesses and helping existing ones grow.”
The relationship between San Bernardino County and Intech goes back several years.
WDB has been a funding and support partner since shortly after Chaffey College and California Steel formally created the center in a building on the CSI grounds in 2014 to provide in-demand technical training and professional development for businesses and industries within the county.
The newly launched welding program was designed specifically for current CSI workers to meet a critical need within the company.
“We recognized years ago that the availability of skilled craftsman was running short, not only here but everywhere. By taking people who have been with the company and know the operations and how the equipment works, we’re not only benefitting CSI’s operations, but upgrading their skills and increasing their earning power,” said Scott Starr, executive vice president of operations for California Steel.
Ten-year CSI employee Jesus Veloz appreciates the opportunity.
“For the company and the county to invest in giving us a skill that’s needed worldwide is amazing, and makes employees feel really good about themselves and the people we work for,” Veloz said.
Said Moises Torres, who has worked at CSI for the past seven years, “It’s a great opportunity for me to become a competent welder, sharpen my skills and be a bigger asset to the company.”
Welding, in fact, has become one of the most popular offerings at InTech — so much so that Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, recently announced a $2.9 million state allocation to put toward the construction of a new classroom and laboratory for welder training.
“Here in San Bernardino County, our manufacturers play such an important role in building and making what America consumes, and jobs like this are essential to making that happen,” said Phil Cothran, the WDB chairman. “The incumbent training program not only helps meet the demand for these critical positions, but highlights the resourceful and innovative steps companies are taking to improve the lives of their workers.”