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BROOKE SELF, DESERT DISPATCH
Two San Bernardino County Supervisors tour the Career Education and Workforce Development Center in Barstow on Thursday. From left to right: Supervisor Josie Gonzales, Supervisor James Ramos, Ken Eaves, Tim Heiden.

BCC's technical training awes SBC supervisors

College vocational center partnering with businesses, high schools

STAFF WRITER

BARSTOW• The industrial-sized facility called the Career Education and Workforce Development Center of Barstow Community College impressed two San Bernardino County supervisors during their visit Thursday morning.

Third District Supervisor James Ramos and Fifth District Supervisor Josie Gonzales met with officials of BCC and Excelsior Charter Schools to learn about the various programs and courses taught in the 22,000 square foot building on State Street.

“This facility and all the vocational training that they offer is amazing,” said Ramos’ Communications Director Molly Wiltshire. “We really need to make sure our workforce throughout the county is trained and ready to hire. I think Barstow is leading the way in how they’re looking at education.”

The building churns out nationally-recognized certifications in welding, industrial maintenance, auto mechanics, and alternative energy, according to BCC’s Dean of Career and Technical Education, Ken Eaves. Eaves led the hour-long tour, while Supervisors Ramos and Gonzales asked questions and were enthused by the program’s offerings.

The partnerships the center has formed with local businesses seeking to hire certified employees in welding and industrial maintenance, was most impressive to them. According to Eaves, several companies have already partnered with the center, including Molycorp and the U.S. Army to network with students for hiring or to use the training facility.

“If we can build a partnership at the county and help you join with these businesses who need skilled workers, we’d like to do that,” Gonzales said.

Ramos voiced similar support to connect and bolster the program.

Excelsior Charter School co-leases the facility with BCC, and is partnering with the community college to provide technical and career training to their middle school and high school students. The idea is that each student who graduates from the charter school will also have a technical certification, the Barstow Excelsior school principal Camren Jones said.

“This all ties into STEM jobs,” Jones said. “Those science and technical-skills based jobs that are higher paying and in high demand.”

“In the industry they’re having a hard time trying to fill these positions,” said Excelsior Superintendent Bill Flynn.

Jones said the charter school plans to build a new Barstow campus next door to the Career Education and Workforce Development Center that will help to integrate their students into vocational training.

Ramos’ field representative Beverly Lowry said that the training center is something she thinks Barstow has needed for years.

“I’ve been encouraging members of the Board of Trustees to be involved in vocational education in our area for 40 years,” she said, “because not everyone in this area has an interest in going to college. I’m just really pleased and it’s a dream come true for me to see.”

Contact Brooke Self at 760-256-4122 or BSelf@DesertDispatch.com.


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