In the midst of the pandemic, Albert Baena took a leap of faith.
"It was very challenging to make the jump," said Baena. "I thought it was very risky at first but it was totally worth it."
The former prep cook at a Pasadena restaurant longed for a career in green energy but didn't know how to make it happen until he reached out to L.A. County's America's Job Center of California and learned about an Electric Bus Manufacturing Training Program at Citrus College. Just months later, he has a new career.
"I've learned a lot. I came here with zero knowledge of what I work with now with electrical work and wires," said Baena.
The web-based class kicked off last fall with Citrus College professors but also offered a hands-on opportunity to get real-world job training at Proterra, an actual manufacturing facility in the City of Industry where electric buses and batteries are born.
But the best part is - Proterra's commitment to hiring graduates of the program. Proterra's JoAnn Covington says the training program is the result of a collective bargaining agreement with United Steel Workers Local 675.
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"Yes we hired over 50% of the January cohort and we are still hiring," said Covington. "We think this is a model for the nation with the steel workers. We're partnering to show how a 21st century relationship between labor and management can build a new workforce for the U.S."
Among the program's goals: to recruit historically underrepresented groups with barriers to employment in manufacturing, including veterans, minority groups, and formerly incarcerated individuals.
"The future is electric, so we will be re-training participants in this industry to move from fossil fuel based jobs to clean energy jobs," said Covington.
Baena says he's proud to be part of the solution to make the world a cleaner, greener space, sharing the words that motivated him to action.
"It says: success is not about where you end up in life, it's about the obstacles you overcome," said Baena. "I like to live by this."
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