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San Joaquin Co. offering unemployed workers an opportunity to learn new skills

Job training and support services will be provided to those who have lost jobs in industries affected for example by automation.

STOCKTON, Calif. -- Helmet in hand, 22-year-old Cole Clark is learning a new career as a welder.

"One of my favorite parts, so far, has been the heat and the sparks. It just feels powerful," said Clark.

Tired of doing odd jobs, he's picking-up the trade at San Joaquin Delta College, in a county where welding jobs are in high demand.

"We've got really large structural fabricators here in town. We have food processing, obviously the wine industry is around. We have aerospace," said Alex Taddei, San Joaquin Delta College welding instructor.

Clark's desire for a new career mirrors what San Joaquin County is doing for those who have lost their job to automation or businesses gone under. A federal grant of nearly $1 million will re-train 150 workers with new careers.

Construction, including welding, is just one of the in-demand industries where employers are looking to hire skilled employees.

"Here's a perfect opportunity to try to figure out what's their interest and what kind of careers, new careers they may want," John Solis, Executive Director, San Joaquin County Worknet, said.

Solis says workers will be provided with career counseling, skills assessment, occupational training and paid on-the-job training opportunities in healthcare to energy and more.

Alejandro Guzman is an unemployed warehouse worker interested in switching careers.

"I got an electrical certification. I tried to look for an electrician assistant or journeyman apprentice," Guzman told ABC10.

But Solis says, wait, there's more.

"So, we have several grants. This is just an additional grant that is going to provide us the opportunity to serve that many more people," explained Solis.

Clark wants to one day take his new welding skills to Wyoming and apply them to agriculture.

"Mending the fences out there and fixing like farming equipment like tractors and things," said Clark.

They're life changing job skills now open to those who want to learn them. For more information, call 209-468-3500 or visit the Employment Development Department website.

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