San Gabriel Valley occupational program gets $4.5 million to expand technology …



A San Gabriel Valley occupational program will get $4.5 million from a federal grant to train more high school students for careers in medicine and technology.

The grant comes from a $107 million national initiative designed to prepare the country’s workforce for jobs that typically go to more qualified foreign applicants. The East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program, which serves seven school districts, will use the four years of funding to add new courses to its career pathways program, according to Superintendent Laurel Adler.

“That’s the focus of this grant, let’s home grow these professionals instead of having to recruit from outside of the nation,” Adler said.

The pathways program focuses a student’s high school and post-secondary curriculum on a specific field. Students take courses related to their chosen career along with their general education classes. Many participants get college credit from Mount San Antonio College, Adler said.

Some of the participating school districts do not have their own pathways program, and the grant will help start one, Adler said. Part of the funds must support low-income students.

“It’s trying to reach kids who might not normally think of a technical or medical career,” she said.

Most entry-level positions in the medicine and technology fields require certifications that few high school graduates would have. The expanded pathways program allows students to graduate with the skills and experience to get an entry level job in their chosen field, whether they choose to continue working toward a degree or not, she said.

“By going through the career path, you can actually get that first job in a technical area that pays well, but that is also part of a career ladder,” Adler said.

The initial enrollments should start in the fall.

“We’ll be spending the next couple months just working together and organizing to get it off the ground,” Adler said.

The East San Gabriel Valley ROP serves Azusa, Baldwin Park, Charter Oak, Covina Valley, Glendora, Walnut and West Covina unified school districts.

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