Valley colleges get stimulus help

Federal stimulus money is underwriting a new round of short-term vocational classes at Reedley College.

The Fresno County Workforce Investment Board is providing $200,000 for job- training courses on the campus.

The agency will distribute a total of $2.6 million in stimulus dollars to pay for vocational classes at several area colleges, officials said.

Courses for auto technicians, health care interpreters and nursing assistants begin next month at Reedley College.

Orientation sessions are scheduled Thursday in Room 36 of the Social Science building -- 1 p.m. for auto technology and 2:30 p.m. for health care interpreter and nursing assistant.

Classes are free.

Lucy Ruiz, spokeswoman for Reedley College, said each program will accept about 20 students.

All must be unemployed and Fresno County residents.

Programs run 16 weeks to 23 weeks. Students who complete the courses earn a certificate.

Blake Konczal, director of the Workforce Investment Board, said the agency invests in training programs most likely to translate into jobs. In part, officials look at job data from the state and survey local businesses to determine the types of workers needed.

"We only get credit from the federal government if people get employment after finishing the class," he said.

The board contracts with colleges to supply training.

Similar classes are taking place at Fresno City College, Madera Community College Center and campuses in the West Hills Community College District, Konczal said. Some began last year.

At City College, for example, classes in weatherization, manufacturing mechanic and welding are in progress.

The last round of courses from the current package of funding is expected to conclude in early 2011.

For information about upcoming classes, call (559) 230-4154.

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