Program to Retrain Workers for New Jobs

The Job Training Policy Council of Ventura County is offering a new job training and placement program for unemployed people whose job skills are no longer in demand, officials announced Thursday.

Funded with $207,000 in federal money, the program would retrain 26 people for jobs that are in demand, such as automotive mechanic, dental assistant, nursing aide, lab technician, welder, word processor or truck driver, according to Thomas Nikirk, program manager for the council.

"The primary qualification is that a person be unlikely to get the same kind of job as the one at which he or she last worked," Nikirk said. "This would apply to an aerospace assembler, for instance, because of all the downsizing in that industry."

The federally funded program, jointly run by the job council and Oxnard College, will pay for 26 people to attend classes at community colleges and other schools for four to six months. The program provides child-care services and pays for books and supplies.

The program, which provides job placement, is geared toward semi-skilled employees who are victims of plant closures and large layoffs, said the job council's Phil Bohan, who works with such companies. It augments another council-funded program designed to help laid-off workers from Abex Aerospace in Oxnard and other local companies.

"The 26 slots are not enough to satisfy the need out there," Bohan said. The need is especially critical, he said, because more companies are expected to close this spring and summer. Among them is U.S. Stamp, an Oxnard firm that produces rubber stamps, which is closing today, putting 80 employees out of work.

After July, the council can request additional federal funds to retrain more unemployed people if the demand for the new program is high, Bohan said.

The Oxnard-based job council distributes about $7 million in federal grants annually to companies, schools and agencies that train people and help them find jobs.

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