Winning partnership to train needed aircraft techs takes flight in Antelope Valley

580 200 Ed Coghlan

(Photo courtesy of Northrop Gumman)

The California Economic Summit announced last week that three regional public-private partnerships for workforce development will be honored at the 2017 Summit next month in San Diego.

Today we feature one of the winning partnerships, a program in the Antelope Valley to fill a need for thousands of trained workers in the region in large part because of Northrop Grumman winning a large Department of Defense contract to build aircraft in Palmdale.

We interviewed Simon Lopez of the Antelope Career Pathways Group, the winning organization.

CAEconomy: Briefly tell us who came up with the idea of the partnership and how did you organize it? 

Lopez: The partnership is a collaborative effort among all of the partners involved in the group: The City of Palmdale, Antelope Valley College, Goodwill of Southern California, L.A. County Workforce Development and Northrop Grumman. The group was organized with the designed purpose of creating career pathways in the local community and customized training coursework to meet local employment demands. There is a lead from each partner that continues to participate with the collective to meet the needs of the program.

What was your partnership trying to achieve?

The initial point of the program / partnership was to meet the rapidly expanding need for trained talent by Northrop Grumman, in the immediate future. The end result has been creating a well-trained workforce that meets the need of the robust and expanding manufacturing / aerospace markets, in the Antelope Valley, not just Northrop Grumman.

How have students benefited?

Students are gaining access to training/employment opportunities with large local employers, whom have not hired people with entry level or a lack of extensive experience in field. With this accelerated program, students and graduates are being given employment opportunities that have livable wages, based upon the quality of the training program and the quality of the graduates.

How have you and other employers benefited? 

The Antelope Valley is on an upward trend, with regards to manufacturing in aerospace employment. With this increase in need, the local employers have needed to find “homegrown” talent, as we are a good distance from the Los Angeles basin, which is located 50+ miles away. This homegrown approach has created a skilled and stable workforce. It is allowing local employers the ability to pay reasonable wages to local talent, which stabilizes the workforce and creates a more profitable environment for local business. It has been a win-win scenario.

Finally, for the last six years the California Economic Summit has been working on making workforce preparation an imperative. What can other employers and educators learn from your partnership?

The biggest takeaway that others can learn from our collaboration is that the best way to re-invigorate a local community is from within. It is by working with local employers to define and to forecast business and hiring needs. It is for educators to be flexible and nimble (a very important fact) in their approach to create customized programs to meet those demands. It is to work with the available resources that exist within the WIOA and Workforce worlds, to fund and to manage these programs. Finally it is to look at these programs as a way to stabilize the local economy within your respective region and to build a strong workforce from within! It is possible. We do it every day in the Antelope Valley!

The Antelope Career Pathways Group will be honored at the 2017 California Economic Summit on November 2-3 in San Diego. Employers, educators, local civic and business leaders are all invited to attend. To register for the Summit, click here.


Ed Coghlan

All stories by: Ed Coghlan