By Jon Wollenhaupt
The Chaffey College InTech Center provides industry-driven technical training for Inland Empire’s growing manufacturing and logistics industry. Located on the campus of California Steel Industries in Fontana, Calif., the 33,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility features classrooms, labs and equipment. The InTech Center delivers hands-on industrial training that provides regional employers with quality candidates for employment or additional apprenticeship training. The InTech Center’s key partners include the Manufacturers’ Council of the Inland Empire and California Steel Industries, Inc., a major employer and top exporter in Southern California.
“Our core programs include the industrial maintenance electrician and industrial mechanic apprenticeships, which were developed in response to industry need. These apprenticeship programs provide our manufacturing partners with access to a talent pool that can quickly fill vacancies in manufacturing, distribution and related industry sectors,” said Sandra Sisco, Chaffey College director of economic development and the InTech Center.
The Value of Manufacturing Internships
In an environment where it is no longer feasible to hire away talent from local competitors, internships can help manufacturers build and sustain a strong and competitive workforce. This is especially important for those organizations that are looking to feed growth. Internships provide students with a firsthand look into workplace culture and offer employers a more realistic portrait of a candidate than the resume and interview process alone; the employer can assess how an individual might fare in the actual workplace. From the hiring manager’s perspective, internships cultivate the opportunity to bring on a permanent employee who not only has experience but has experience within that specific company.
“Employer partnerships are integral to the success of InTech. Frito-Lay supports InTech in multiple ways. They provide input regarding our curriculum, donations for our Manufacturing Day events and participate in our mock-panel interviews for our students. We appreciate their commitment to our success.”
—Sandra Sisco, Chaffey College director of economic development and the InTech Center
Q & A WITH PEPSICO, INC./FRITO-LAY
Building an Industrial Mechanic Pipeline
Describe Your Partnership with Chaffey College’s InTech Center
Sandrine Akindo, human resources manager: “The Chaffey College InTech Center is one of our regional outreach partners that helps us develop a pipeline of quality candidates for our industrial mechanic internship program. The relationship has been very beneficial to us as we work to fill a gap in the number of skilled industrial mechanics we need vs. what is available in the employment market.”
How Did Your Internship Program Begin?
Akindo: “We first started by looking at the structure of the InTech Center apprenticeship program. At that time, we had a huge need in our maintenance department for industrial mechanics. Ultimately, we decided to create our own internal internship program and leverage our relationship with the InTech Center as an external resource for candidates. Because students from their program come to us with a solid foundation in mechanical skills and knowledge, we know we have an excellent resource in place as we look to fill internship positions. This is important because we expect our intern candidates to start the program with a certain level of knowledge, which helps make them successful in their positions and with our company.”
How Long Does It Typically Take for a Person to Complete Your Industrial Mechanic Internship Program?
Akindo: “We recently extended our internship program from 90 days to 120 days. Depending on a student’s performance success and the coursework they’ve completed, the program can last from 90 to 120 days.”
What Kind of Wages Can an Industrial Mechanic Intern Expect to Be Paid?
Akindo: “Interns are currently paid between $18 and $20 an hour. Once they’ve completed the internship and come on board fulltime, their pay range typically increases to between $22 and $28 an hour. While there is no guarantee of employment following the internship, if the candidate is interested in being hired on full-time, they can apply for a position as a preventive maintenance tech specialist. An employee typically spends a year or two in that role, during which they get extensive training on our equipment. As their skills continue to develop, they can advance to an industrial mechanic position and can then run the production floor on their own with very minimal supervision. So there’s really a lot of opportunity to advance.”
What Does the Future of This Partnership Look Like?
Akindo: “We are looking at this as a long-term relationship. We do have quite a few projects coming up, which will require us to open up requisitions for more internship positions. So, it’s pretty critical that we continue to have access to candidates from the industrial mechanic program at the Intech Center. It’s all about cultivating a pipeline of high-quality candidates we can train on our equipment and who understand the nature of our business and all of our processes. Our goal is to advance interns to permanent positions who are already familiar with all those things. We will also continue to support InTech with events like Manufacturing Day, with feedback on their curriculum and with our participation on mock-panel interviews for their students.”
How Does Your Partnership with the InTech Center Complement Your Industrial Mechanic Pipeline Strategy?
Charles Gnesda, Maintenance and Engineering Manager: “Our partnership with the InTech Center helps us fulfill a crucial part of our employment pipeline strategy. With the implementation of the internship program, we now have three ways of bringing new mechanics onto the team, which includes the outside hiring of full-time, experienced industrial mechanics and the promotion of internal candidates who take technical classes and then apply for open positions within the Maintenance Department. Our partnership with the InTech Center has significantly enhanced our hiring strategy and how we develop a pipeline of quality candidates. By sourcing internships candidates from the InTech Center’s program, we are developing students with good fundamental skills and knowledge into highly-skilled mechanics. We expect that about a quarter of all mechanics we hire will come from our internship program.”
What Is Your Impression of the InTech Center and Its Programs?
Gnesda: “It’s a very well-set-up facility. The classes are much more hands-on than most other programs I’ve visited. Most schools are based on classroom study only. The InTech Center offers lots of opportunities for students in the industrial mechanic program to learn hands on, to apply knowledge from the classroom directly on real equipment. We find great value in the baseline mechanical education they provide to their students. Those are a few of the things that really impressed me, and that’s why we are enthusiastic to bring on interns from their program.”
For more information on the InTech Center’s industrial maintenance electrician and industrial mechanic apprenticeship programs, please contact:
Chaffey College director of economic development and the InTech Center
Chaffey College grant liaison