The latest graduates from the College of the Canyons Fast Track program prove that with the right training, you can go from being unemployed to launching a new career in just seven weeks.
Offered by the COC Economic Development Division, the Fast Track program is a collection of intensive courses geared toward entry-level skills training and professional certifications that prepare students for a variety of fields, including CNC (computer numerically controlled) manufacturing. In CNC manufacturing, operators program and control machines that shape metal into parts for a wide range of industrial and aerospace applications.
Fast Track was designed to train people with no previous experience for work in a new field, although a few students already work in CNC are looking to upgrade their skills.
“We’ve had everyone from bartenders to Starbucks’ baristas to people that haven’t worked in five years,” said Joe Klocko, the recently retired dean of Economic Development at COC. Klocko described the Fast Track program in a nutshell as “short-term, intensive training that would give someone the skills to find a better job.”
The 280-hour, seven-week CNC program is divided into classroom and hands-on time to teach students the skills they’ll need on the job. Safety protocols, blueprint reading, shop math, and machining their own parts are among the topics.
Students are taught in COC’s machining lab by experts trained to educate adults in CNC machining, and utilize traditional textbooks alongside a scientific calculator, online toolset, and machinist’s measuring implements. Upon completing the program, students earn a CNC Machining Certificate of Completion and National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC).
Program graduates are highly sought after by local companies, earning up to $20 per hour after gaining on-the-job experience.
The Fast Track graduation ceremony features a job fair. Twelve companies attended to interview the nine most recent graduates looking for work (three of the class’12 students were already employed). So far five of the nine graduates have been hired, with the others still going through the application and interview process.
Among the companies present were Aerospace Dynamics, Honda Performance Development, and The Spaceship Company, owned by Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson. Each graduate spent 15 minutes interviewing with each employer, with follow-up interviews scheduled based on the results of the initial meetings.
The next Fast Track cohort will begin Monday, Sept. 12, with additional classes scheduled to start throughout the year. Admission is based on application, and enrollment fees are waived for students who are currently unemployed.