(TNS) — Leaders are pushing the state to invest in a training center for Riverside Community College District students, in hopes of building a more diverse workforce and stronger economy.
At a Thursday, June 9, news conference at Riverside City College, politicians and others, led by Assembly Member Sabrina Cervantes, D-Riverside, called on the California legislature to approve $33 million for the center.
The facility, proposed for a yet-to-be-determined location in Jurupa Valley, would be called the Inland Empire Technical Trade Center.
The goal is to break ground on the 50-acre site in 2025-26. Students would be educated in areas such as carpentry, retail, automotive and cybersecurity, according to the district. The exact programs and services will be more defined later, officials said.
A technical trade center is proposed in the state budget, officials said. Gov. Gavin Newsom and the legislature have until June 15 to adopt a budget.
The center would offer basic technical training to students within the Riverside Community College District, which runs three colleges: Riverside City College, Norco College and Moreno Valley College. Its students could do training and take technical courses at the center.
Debra Mustain, interim executive director of workforce and economic development and entrepreneurship for the Riverside Community College District, said it would prepare students for “high-skill, high-wage and locally in-demand careers, and will align with current local and regional college career education offerings.”
Rebeccah Goldware, the district’s vice chancellor for institutional advancement and economic development, said the center has the potential to “transport students from poverty to self-sufficiency.”
It would feature “paid and related work-based learning,” a news release states. District officials did not yet know the exact trade programs that would be offered or the specific careers for which the center would prepare students.
Local politicians including Cervantes; state Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside; and Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside; whose office secured over $1 million for planning and development, support the center.
“For our region to be able to compete on the global stage, we must continue to develop and grow a skilled and trained workforce that resides right here in the heart of the Inland Empire,” Cervantes said at Thursday’s event. “We must ensure that workers in the Inland Empire are prepared for the jobs of the future. And not just jobs that require a college degree, but also well-paid positions in our trades to help continue us continue to build a better and stronger California.”
She said the Inland Empire has a lack of resources and incomes to match the region’s rising living costs in the region. She said 54 percent of Riverside County workers are “neither formally trained nor skilled, either of which would maximize their ability to pursue a well-paying career.”
Brad Umansky, an analyst with the Rancho Cucamonga-based Progressive Real Estate Partners, supported the proposed school. Too many students are borrowing too much money to attend colleges “that leave them without skills that can be applied in the real world,” he said.
“I also believe we have too many kids that do not attend college and therefore are left without meaningful employment skills,” Umansky said. “We currently have a significant disconnect in our country and likely in our region between unemployed people and the jobs that are being offered … there is a shortage of skilled employees in healthcare, trucking related businesses, and logistics services.”
Joe Duffle, president of the Inland Empire Labor Council, said Thursday that many Inland residents must move or commute elsewhere to work. There are fewer opportunities for those in trades, even with the rapid growth of the region, and dollars for the center would help, he said.
“This $33 million should come here,” Duffle said. “For many years people would come out to the Inland Empire. It was cheap land, cheap labor and an uneducated workforce. That has to change.”
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