Andrew Weedon / The Advocate
After an 18-month hiatus, Contra Costa College has brought back the conglomerate of INTEC (Industrial Technology) classes, which is composed of Forklift Operations, Warehouse Management, Counseling 140, and Computer Information Systems 110.
The program was moved from Contra Costa College because the instructors felt it was important to hold the classes in a more suitable area.
“They taught both the class and the forklift training in downtown Richmond on 23rd and Barrett and leased the space from RichmondBUILD, because they felt the space simulated a real job environment,” Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said.
Through the 10-week program, the students split classroom study in the old bookstore with hands-on training behind the tennis courts.
Although the facility does not simulate a workplace enviornment like the downtown Richmond location, at CCC, they have three forklifts and an electronic pallet-jack that the students use for instruction.
Students who complete the Forklift Logistics Operations Warehouse program (F.L.O.W.) get much more than just forklift operation training. In addition, students receive an Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA 10) certification that is federally recognized.
The program provides the students with a career fair at the end of the semester geared towards immediately placing the students in a job.
“They receive a certification that states they have completed a forklift safety program. The benefit to our program is that they get a well-rounded educational experience with warehousing, forklift, computer skills and all of that is supported with job search skill training. They also learn effective resume writing and training in job interview skills.
“It’s much more than just learning how to drive a forklift,” instructor Rick Palermo said.
Palermo said the five students who are enrolled in the classes, will also get a statement of training outlining the skills they are proficient in with regards to forklift operation.
Career Pathways Manager Evan Decker said the Industrial Technology classes, which are partially comprised of the Forklift Operations and Warehouse Management, were originally funded by a federal department of labor grant in 2013.
“It’s helpful for students to have additional support to meet their goals. Our faculty members are encouraging, and they talk to each other in ways that really support the students as a team,” Decker said.
Decker said he’s glad Contra Costa College has been recognized by the Chancellor’s Office in Sacramento and that the students who complete the program are able to increase their income by 126 percent.
For Richmond native and previous Contra Costa College student Ed Aquinde, driving a forklift is much more than a job to be taken at face-value, it’s a therapeutic mechanism.
“For me, coming back to Contra Costa College is a healing process because I had to put everything on hold due to previous health complications,” Aquinde said.
Aquinde said that he found out about the F.L.O.W. program when he saw a flyer at East Bay Works and it caught his eye.
At first he was a little skeptical, but he said the hands-on segment of the class is giving him a chance to see if he is physically prepared for a job at a warehouse.
He was raised in Richmond, where his father worked for Chevron and the Petroleum industry and later the U.S. Department of Defense.
“This program is testing my physical readiness and it’s created an opportunity for a change of career,” he said.
Aquinde said this program can be particularly beneficial if people are willing to move out to places in the middle of the state like Fresno, where Amazon is planning on building a new huge warehouse.
This and other opportunities make the program advantageous.
“My favorite part is that you’re teaching folks a skill, that they can go out into the workforce and get a job with,” Palermo said.