Evolve Manufacturing Technologies, Inc.
Training Displaced Workers for Jobs in Manufacturing

Training Displaced Workers for Jobs in Manufacturing

March 19, 2021
The city of Fremont, California, created an earn and learn program to redeploy workers.

The City of Fremont, California, saw an opportunity to remedy a difficult problem.  In the San Francisco Bay area, 20,900 jobs were lost due to the impact of COVID-19. At the same time, companies were ramping up to produce products to fight the pandemic. Manufacturing companies such as Evolve Manufacturing Technologies, Inc,  began producing rapid COVID-19 test kits, ventilators, and COVID-19 treatment equipment last spring needed help. The company had hired 100 people but needed more. 

So the  City of Fremont Economic Development Department came up with a solution to begin to address the issue of finding jobs for those displaced by the pandemic. On March 5 it launched the Earn and Learn Fremont (ELF) Pilot Program to help those without jobs - especially people of color and low-income groups - to jumpstart a new career in advanced manufacturing.

"Since the onset of the global pandemic last year, we have manufactured more than 2 million COVID-19 tests and doubled our manufacturing workforce in Fremont,” Noreen King Founder and CEO of Evolve Manufacturing told IndustryWeek. “As we continue to make ventilators and antibody testing kits, we're eager to find more local talent to join us. On the other hand, there are many workers laid off from the service industries that are anxious to start working again. That's why I'm enthused by this Earn and Learn Fremont Pilot Program. With sufficient on-the-job training and support from the City and broader region, we believe we can open a new avenue for these displaced workers to rejoin the workforce and start a new career in advanced manufacturing."

For this program participants who are eligible through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act will receive eight weeks of paid work experience at Evolve Manufacturing and six weeks of concurrent virtual skills development training via Ohlone College's Smart Manufacturing Technology Program. Participants will also receive an industry-recognized Certificate of Competency after completing a customized manufacturing skills development training which was developed by Ohlone College. 

 Upon graduation, participants may be offered a full-time job at Evolve or choose to work at another manufacturing company. If participants choose to continue their education at Ohlone College, they will also be able to apply the credits earned through the ELF Pilot Program toward the college’s Smart Manufacturing Technology Program.

Creating this program involved a number of organizations including workforce development boards Alameda County Workforce Development Board and work2future. They are providing federal funding and offering case management as well as supportive services for participants. And the city’s Human Services Department's Family Resource Center has been promoting the program with an eye towards providing wrap-around services to help their clients make a career shift.

"In Fremont, we are proud to be home to over 900 manufacturing businesses that provide an abundance of middle-wage job opportunities and can lead to better career path trajectories," Fremont Mayor Lily Mei told IndustryWeek. "We are grateful to have innovative partners such as Ohlone College supporting the ELF Pilot Program, and we are hopeful that it may inspire other manufacturing partners in our region to pursue similar opportunities to diversify their workforces. Likewise, we hope the program incentivizes employees to look beyond misconceptions of the manufacturing industry (e.g., manufacturing jobs are low-wage, low-tech, etc.) to pursue entry-level jobs in the field that could lead to lasting, prosperous careers to replace and better their lives long term."

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