Manufacturing Academy a job-making machine

Updated: Apr 8, 2019

Valley equips students with the skills needed to find a career in the manufacturing industry.

By Aimee Martinez, Staff Writer

The Valley Star/Aimee Martinez

Students entering the Manufacturing Academy can expect to be equipped for employment after graduating using the skills they obtain in a hands-on, six-week course.

The Manufacturing Academy is a Valley’s Job Training Department Sponsored Program. It teaches students a variety of skills: equipment safety, conventional machinery, blueprint reading, inspection and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) programming. The academy’s aim is getting work for unemployed individuals who are interested in the manufacturing field.

“This is a career,” said CNC programing instructor Aram Ohanis. “You can’t mix this up with getting a job at McDonald’s or some place where it’s temporary.”

Following graduation, a job fair is held. According to program manager Roberto Gutierrez, 75 percent of graduates have a job or offer within a week of graudation. However, some students who apply to manufacturing companies around week four or five can secure work through a commitment before they graduate. Often employers will come and speak during training while simultaneously scoping out potential employees. Once a student has been hired, they can return to the academy and build upon their learning.

“Kids grow up not learning that there are all these wonderful opportunities,” said Gutierrez. “And you don’t have to be in production. You could be on the white collar side of production.”

Using the funds from Prop. 39 and a grant from the California Career Pathways Trust, Valley is updating the program’s equipment to match the industry’s increasing technological advances. The Prop. 39 program funds California’s K-12 schools and community college districts for the installation of clean and efficient energy projects. Funding from the California Adult Education program is also helping to pay for the facility’s renovation. As part of the California Department of Education, the program provides lifelong educational opportunities and support for adults.

The academy is currently repainting the shop, buying new equipment, installing LED lights and covering the floor in epoxy.

The academy also plan to get new computers and updated simulation machines and will be teaching a new Mastercam manufacturing program. The changes are expected to be completed near spring break. With the new renovations, the academy hopes to attract more students from high schools like Van Nuys, Grant, Monroe, Arleta and Birmingham.

Those who enroll in the program receive funding from various sources including: WorkSource Centers, YouthSource Centers and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. WorkSource Centers fund adults through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act from the Department of Labor. YouthSource centers fund high school dropouts and unemployed graduates through the Federal Workforce Investment Act and a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation Fund.

According to the Labor of Bureau Statistics, Los Angeles leads the nation in manufacturing jobs. As a result, there are many avenues for students in the field, including manufacturing for aerospace, medical devices, automotive aftermarket parts and more. In Los Angeles, the aerospace industry provides big opportunities for graduates. Over 50,000 people are employed in the aerospace and defense industry, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

The academy began in 2006 when Valley was awarded a $1.5 million grant on from the Labor Department to advance manufacturing, allowing them to work with the unemployed.

The next academy begins April 8. Orientations take place March 13 and 27 beginning at 10 a.m. in room 108 of the Engineering building. Students interested in joining can apply through their local worksource center, which can be found using the Los Angeles Economic and Workforce Development Training website. For additional information, email Roberto Gutierrez at or call him at (818) 947-2941.