The Nexus Job Development Incentive Fund (JDIF) is a new grant responsible for developing new vocational programs for veterans here at Fullerton College. Additional funding is also being provided by the Department of Labor in the form of H-1B grants.
These grants were responsible for three new vocational programs; welding, computer numerical control (CNC) machining, and a printing department specializing in flexography all of which are currently in session this Fall semester.
Scott McKenzie, dean of technology and engineering, says that these programs are, “geared towards getting veterans short term training.”
McKenzie oversaw much of the process of developing these programs. He worked to incorporate programs that were not only speedy but also with sufficient employment prospects. Furthermore, he worked with the faculty in designing the sequence of instruction, as well as the Veterans Center who is assisting with recruitment.
After successfully completing the program, students will receive certification and employment possibilities.
“There’s tremendous job availability in each of these three categories,” said McKenzie.
The programs are accelerated and will allow the students to acquire enough knowledge in a short period of time, the most extensive being CNC machining at two semesters. Whereas, welding falls as a one semester and six weeks program and the printing program at one semester.
McKenzie says student will, “learn enough in a short time period so they are able to get back into the income stream.”
This is especially necessary because these new vocational programs attract veterans who may be facing many different hurdles in their life, but for a vast majority, the main hurdle is the chance to attain a steady income or even a place to sleep.
The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2012 estimated that on a single night 62,619 veterans were homeless.
This is the grim reality for many veterans who find themselves out of service and unable to find any jobs that go with their training.
“A lot of us pick jobs in the military that don’t transfer into the civilian world,” says Scott Thompson, President of the Veterans Club.
Thompson is currently enrolled in the welding program, going to school part-time as an administration of justice major, and working full time.
The JDIF grant is allowing for veterans to pursue a different path besides the traditional four year university or two year associate degree track.
“Time is of the essence, I plan to get certified and get employment,” Alan Drew, a veteran student of printing and flexography discusses his future plans.
Bryan Hardeway is another veteran who is participating in these programs, even though he already holds an associate degree in physical education. However, Hardeway’s degree requires him to continue on to the four year degree program which is not the path for him.
“I don’t have time for four more years,” Hardeway explains.
When asked if there were any areas which the grant could provide a bit more funding, McKenzie discussed how these career pathways require individuals a list of tools.
McKenzie explains, “It would be interesting if they left having successfully completed a program with a little starting tool kit.”