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Free career training offered for Turlockers impacted by COVID
The Turlock City Council allocated $50,000 of its $2.5 million in CARES Act funding toward scholarships that would assist residents adversely affected by the pandemic with occupational training through the VOLT program (Photo contributed).

Turlock residents who have been economically impacted by COVID-19 can find new, reliable career opportunities thanks to a scholarship program offered through the Valley Occupational Learning and Technology Institute in Modesto. 

In November, the Turlock City Council allocated $50,000 of its $2.5 million in CARES Act funding toward scholarships that would assist residents adversely affected by the pandemic with training through the VOLT program. Operated by Opportunity Stanislaus, the VOLT Institute trains high-quality candidates to enter the workforce with skills that are in demand by industries in the Central Valley Region, many of which are operating as essential businesses during the pandemic. 

The VOLT full maintenance mechanic program provides 360 hours of hands-on training in 10 different areas, like mechanical drive systems, welding, machine tools and more — all critical skills needed to work in many of the region’s businesses. 

Full-ride scholarships for the program, which cost $7,550, are available to Turlock residents 18 and older who have either lost their job, have seen a reduction in hours or have otherwise been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Those interested can apply now through the end of the month, Opportunity Stanislaus Chief Business Services Officer Tyler Richardson said.

“We have all of these food processors and all of these essential manufacturers who are really hurting right now for talented folks, so they’re hiring at VOLT and are really desperate,” Richardson said. “We thought what a great opportunity for folks who have maybe lost their job. Maybe they were in the restaurant industry or hospitality or personal services and they really need work. They can go through this training program and really repurpose their career.”

Graduates of VOLT Institute have been hired at companies that pay anywhere from $20 to $32 per hour, Director of Marketing and Student Engagement Kevin Fox said. The program has seen more interest from the public as the pandemic causes unemployment, and both Fox and Richardson hope the scholarship program will make VOLT a realistic path for even more. 

While Opportunity Stanislaus is known for helping the community find work, their mission is even more important now during the economic downturn caused my COVID-19.

“This job is very fulfilling, more fulfilling than any job that I've ever had...the direct connection that I've been able to have with students and see lives changing is that fulfilling part that makes me get out of bed and put my feet on the floor and head into work,” Fox said.

People who have lost their jobs during the pandemic are likely looking for something more secure in their next line of work, making the training VOLT offers a perfect solution. As Richardson mentioned, many larger manufacturing companies in the Valley are working overtime during the pandemic to provide food and products to the rest of the country.

“In many ways this has been an economic pandemic as much as a health pandemic, of course, and anything we can do as a community, as cities and training centers like VOLT, to come together and offer opportunities is really important in times like this,” Richardson said.

VOLT Institute helps its graduates get hired upon graduation, and Richardson added that Turlock companies will have first priority when it comes to recruiting recipients of the Turlock scholarships. 

Those who are interested in applying for a scholarship can do so by visiting and filling out the provided form. For more information, Fox can be contacted by calling VOLT Institute at 209-566-9102. 

“We’re really hopeful that we can get folks that have been really hurt from an economic standpoint, but are really interested in trying something new and are willing to take the risk, push themselves and grow,” Richardson said. “We’re here to help them.”