MC teams with Washington State University to develop job training

yamaro@mercedsunstar.comDecember 13, 2012 

— Merced College will work with Washington State University to develop skill standards for employees in the region's manufacturing sector, a primary part of the San Joaquin Valley economy, officials announced.

The Merced College board of trustees this month approved a $33,000 consulting agreement with WSU to develop a report to determine the skills and abilities required to succeed in the manufacturing workplace, according to Marianne Tortorici, vice president for instruction at Merced College. The report will examine any gaps in skills.

Merced College should get the report around June. It will help college officials develop curriculum to assist Merced County and regional businesses, Tortorici said.

WSU will use research, focus groups, set performance criteria, scenarios and validation to determine the standards, Tortorici said. The process will include data collection and a survey of manufacturing employers within the Joaquin Valley.

The college is using a Responsive Training Fund grant from the California Community College's Chancellor's office for the services, Tortorici said.

The goals of the grant are to meet employer demand for a skilled and prepared work force. The consulting agreement with WSU ends June 30.

"The grant is really about meeting local business needs for training and for those individuals who are coming to our campus looking for trainings," said Karyn Dower, dean of economic and work force development.

The first Responsive Training Fund grant the college received was $349,000. That money went to provide on-site training at some manufacturing businesses in the area and to develop a mobile training unit to provide more training once the report is completed, Dower said.

The second grant was around $224,000, used to conduct more work in areas related to the manufacturing industry. The $33,000 for the consulting contract with WSU came from those two grants, she said.

The college won't be the only entity to benefit from the report. Employers who are recruiting and those who want to retain employees will also benefit, Dower said. The work will help provide training for the employers and individuals so those employers can stay in business, she added.

Among the businesses Merced College hopes will take part in the survey include Hilmar Cheese Co., Dole, Laird Manufacturing and Morningstar, Dower said.

WSU representatives will be reaching out to businesses in the region, she said.

Reporter Yesenia Amaro can be reached at (209) 385-2482 or

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