Training With a Green Consciousness

Training With a Green Consciousness

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At CET's Green Building Construction and Automotive Repair students learn in 900 hours, or about 26 weeks, how to work on old, new and electric cars. They learn everything in building maintenance, from safety standards to blueprint reading, electrical finishings, carpentry, plumbing and even improve their mathematical skills.

"We teach our students skills in any kind of trade, and many of them come from places such as NUMMI, that closed down, and we teach them several construction skills," said Jaime Iniguez, Building Maintenance instructor.

NUMMI, an automobile manufacturing plant in Fremont that closed down last year, is just one example of the many jobs that have been lost in the Bay Area in recent years. Now there has been a renaissance in job creation due to investments in clean energy technology. 

Solar panels are being installed around the Bay Area, and electric cars are being built as well. Tesla Motors now uses the old NUMMI plant to manufacture and sell electric vehicles. 

Students at CET learn through real, hands-on practice. At this moment, they are building two new classrooms at the Green Building, located at the Monterey Technology Center in San Jose.

"After they complete the program, we place them at a similar job in a career close to what they are learning here. For example, we work with companies such as Avalon Bay, a major apartment, condominiums and town-home maintenance company. They come here, put the students into a competition and give them jobs."

To complete the program, students have to pass a competition, which consists of testing their abilities in each field they have participated in.

"We test them in interior or exterior work, they put screws in, finishings, textures, frames, doors, windows and walls. After they complete these tests, they receive their certificate."

Students learn how the sun produces the renewable energy needed for solar panels, from the basics to the advanced necessary skills in order to build a solar system.

"This program changes constantly, the directors are always searching for the latest technology and the program has grown considerably," said Iniguez.

The Automotive Repair program is also an evolving program that adapts to today's dynamic market. 

"We will be teaching some hybrid technology, that's a huge thing that's going on now and even more into the future," said Mike White, instructor at the Automotive Repair program, who has more than 30 years of experience in the Automobile industry. 

"Hybrid technology has been around since the mid 90s, but it's really taking off now with the government making it more important," said White.

The workforce has a high demand for mechanics who understand hybrid technology, and also car electronics.

"They will learn advanced electronics, they'll be able to operate scanners, check for codes, engine lights and operate sophisticated equipment," said White. 

In about six months students will learn everything related to car issues, but also improve their English skills. They will get help with their resumes and understand what employers are looking for. Students will learn about other job factors such as punctuality, being clean, having a positive attitude and good workmanship.

"We emphasize the importance of education, because you have to relearn your industry every three to four years," said White.

Students also get help in completing their GED, and learn or improve their job searching skills. After completing their program, they take advantage of CET's job placement department, or move on to a college. 

"Thirty to 60 days into the program, they [CET] teach us employment classes, they prepare us for employment," said Samuel Torres, Automotive Repair student.

Torres will complete the program in June, and plans to attend Evergreen College soon after. 

"I was hesitant to come here, but now after I saw hands-on classes, I liked it more and I'm always learning here," said Torres. 

CET, is a non-profit organization, founded and based in San Jose. Today, there are 30 centers around the United States, and six in Belize and Chile.
Gerardo Fernandez is a writer & videographer for Alianza News.