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New South Coast College Program Comes With Virtual Job Guarantee For Graduates

Ventura College students learn diesel engine repair, maintenance as part of new college/business partnership. A lack of trained diesel engine mechanics means program graduates should have an easy time finding jobs locally after graduation

Jose Razo of Oxnard has a dream for his family. He wants a better life for his five kids. Razo works overnights in a warehouse, in fact, close to 60 hours a week to support his family. Now, on top of that, the 32 year old man is taking college classes five hours a day.

Razo is one of more than two dozen Ventura College students in a new program giving them training to work in a field where there are wide open jobs which can’t be filled because there aren’t enough qualified candidates.

Ventura College, the Ventura College Foundation, and Gibbs Truck Centers have launched a new Diesel Mechanic Program. Students will get hands on experience. Those who graduate from the two year program will be certified to work on diesel engines, and also get a degree from Ventura College.

Norbert Tan, who’s the Foundation’s Executive Director, says there’s only a few college programs of this type on the West Coast, and before this there were none on the Central and South Coasts. Ventura College and officials with Ventura County based Gibbs Truck Centers both saw the need.

Ed Gibbs, the General Manager of the family owned company, says they set up their own training program which attracted people from throughout the West Coast. He says the problem was almost immediately after graduating from the two year program, the trainees would return to their hometowns. Gibbs says by training local residents, the hope is to build up a local diesel mechanic workforce. He says they could use 10 trained mechanics right now if they could find them. So, the company pledged close to a million dollars in cash and in-kind support to help hire an instructor, and start the program. The company allows the program to use two of its service base at its Oxnard facility.

Diesel Program Instructor Blane Schloo says having Gibbs support is making the program possible. Schloo says while there are some for-profit trade schools which teach diesel engine repair, they charge $30,000 to $40,000 for their training programs. By comparison, the two Ventura College program will cost students less than $3,000.

Jose Razo, the father of five who’s juggling a nearly 60 hour work week and school, admits the program can be challenging, but sees this as the gateway to a brighter future for his family. He says one day when he was talking to his 11 year old son, and was asked if he finished high school, he admitted he hadn’t. His son told him he should go back to school, and Razo says that’s what finally convinced him to do it for himself, and his family.