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The 'Wonderful' future of agricultural technology careers

Bakersfield College is teaming up with The Wonderful Career Center in Shafter to offer students new educational and employment opportunities in the field of industrial agricultural technology.
wonderful career center in shafter
Posted at 10:13 PM, Jun 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-05 14:29:12-04

SHAFTER, Calif. (KERO) — Bakersfield College and The Wonderful Career Center have come together to provide students with a new opportunity in the field of industrial technology through classroom instruction, lab work, and on-the-job learning.

Director of Talent Partnerships for The Wonderful Company Kenny Spratt says the company hopes this engagement with Bakersfield College will help them find job candidates not just for today, but for the future.

"As we continue to grow as a society, a lot of these jobs that you're seeing out here are not just entry-level jobs anymore. We're seeing a lot of these jobs becoming more and more automated. That's where our partnership through Bakersfield College really helps us bridge that gap and provide these opportunities throughout the entire Central Valley," said Spratt.

The Wonderful Company says its new Maintenance Technician Apprenticeship Program is one of a kind here in the Central Valley, as it aims to train 100 apprentices by 2026. These apprentices will then be hired through employer partners at the start of the program into positions that pay $19.80 an hour.

Cindy Palacios, The Wonderful Company's associate director of technical training, says the company has always put value into training and investing in its employees, and Bakersfield College has always made efforts to serve the community, and that's how the idea to partner up came about.

"We are adding bits of BC's curriculum into the academic portion, but they do have on-the-job training, so anything that they learn theory-wise, whether it be basic electronics, electric motors, mechanical systems, or OSHA training, they will have the opportunity to apply that in a real life setting with one of our employer partners," said Palacios.

The Wonderful Career Center's website says some of the requirements for the MTA program include being 18 years or older and having a high school diploma or GED.

"It could be a fast-paced 12 month commitment," said Palacios. "The training that they're receiving here, it's scheduled out, planned out. They're going into real-world situations with the industry. They're not sugarcoating any o the work that they're being required to do. So long as they're prepared to put in the work, they will receive the fruits of their labor at the end."

Anthony Cordova, Dean of Instruction at BC, says he believes this is an exciting opportunity for not only Bakersfield College students but for residents throughout Kern County, as the program has a focus on rural communities.

"Shafter, Wasco, Delano areas that are really going to be able to take advantage of the work that we're doing to set that foundation. It's also giving them a pathway to get into higher education attainment," said Cordova.

For more information about the training programs at the Wonderful Career Center, visit their online training portal.