High-Speed Rail Training Program in Selma works to train more skilled workers for local jobs

SELMA, Calif. (KFSN) -- There's a shortage of skilled workers to build the high-speed rail project, but a new program in Selma is working to change that by training residents for trades that provide good-paying wages.

With the snap of a ribbon -- the training center is up and running.

It's a partnership between the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation and the City of Selma.

"It's going to be job training, but it's going to be job training that's going to allow them to provide, not just survive, but provide for their families," said Selma Mayor, Louis Franco. "When community members can do that, it benefits community members as a whole."

Students wasted no time digging in as they work to discover what specific area they want to pursue. From steelwork to plumbing and electrical training and much more.

"Once they have completed their training, our commitment is to connect them to every major contractor that we have working on this project and interview for jobs that we desperately need people to work on today," said Henry Perea, High-Speed Rail Board Member.

Arturo Garza of Selma is part of the inaugural pre-apprenticeship class.

"I hope to learn the skills that not only will lead to a job but rewarding career in construction and trade school," said Garza.

Right now, there are 32 active high-speed rail job sites in the valley and around 1,100 workers building the project. But it's getting harder to find skilled workers.

So Monday, the next group of workers practiced some basic skills, shoveling gravel and stacking bricks.

It was monumental since the goal of the high-speed rail project in the Central Valley has been to keep as much of the workforce as possible homegrown.

"We can't bring people from outside of the area, outside of the country and bring them here to do this. We have to ensure that our local people are the ones that are going to benefit from this," said Lee Ann Eager of the Fresno County Economic Development Corporation.

The training program is geared toward disadvantaged communities with high unemployment rates.

To apply, head to the Central Valley Training Center website. You need to be 18 years old, have a valid driver's license and pass a drug test.
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