Program helps develop Fresno workforce with paid internships

The career readiness program was launched under the Fresno Business Council in partnership with several organizations.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Sparks are flying as materials are welded at United Western Industrial in northwest Fresno. The company is a manufacturer of heavy-duty truck parts.

Behind the protective gear is a high school senior, Savannah Ruiz.

"I've had such a passion for welding. I love it. I adore it. It's such an empowering feeling when you're able to say I made this, look at this weld. I made this; it's mine," Ruiz said.

Ruiz is an intern in the Career Nexus program, matching young adults to employers.

The career readiness program was launched under the Fresno Business Council in partnership with several organizations.

It initially started to support high-demand employment needs locally.

"Really builds the pipeline of the workforce for our employers here in the Fresno region. Really developing the skills that are needed and our employers have been asking for," said Genelle Taylor Kumpe, the C.E.O of San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance. and C.O.O. of Fresno Business Council.

Officials say not only are people being placed into internships, but they're also getting education and support.

It's hands-on learning in 2021.

"As a company, we get an intern that is paid by somebody else. One of the benefits is we get to bring this individual in and show them what it is like in the real workplace," said Bruce Ketch, United Western Industries general manager.

Ketch says there is a lack of skilled workers in the manufacturing industry.

The hope is to train the next generation.

"We're giving back to our community by doing this. So it's a great thing. It's a win-win for everybody," Ketch said.

The program is directed at young people ages 18 to 29, but anyone can apply. It's funded by foundation and workforce development.

As for Ruiz, she hopes to get a job in the welding profession after she graduates.

Career nexus is taking applications for interns and employers.
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