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SCHOOL/8inches/1stjc/mark2nd LISA STEEN PROCTOR Staff Reporter The West Valley Occupational Center is trying to fix a common concern of San Fernando Valley businesses lack of qualified workers. The center which is part of the L.A. Unified School District is asking area businesses to provide input on what type of instruction they want to see at the school, said Joan Schulman, director of the schools career center. The Woodland Hills campus in return is asking businesses to develop mentor or apprentice programs, she said. “We are concerned about meeting with businesses to discuss each other’s needs so that there is a constant dialogue between the center and Valley businesses,” Schulman said. To this end, the school is working with the Valley Economic Alliance a coalition of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, various chambers of commerce and the Economic Development Center (a non-profit created to help small businesses) to develop the alliance’s work force preparedness program, said Joe Lucente, who chairs VICA’s education committee and sits on the alliance’s board of directors. VICA’s member-companies receive information about the school’s curriculum in order for them to consider possible training partnerships. If a need exists for a specific type of training, the school will either adapt its current curriculum or add a new program, said Joe Tijerina, the school’s prinicipal. “We do have limited funds, but whenever possible we try to accommodate an industry’s request,” said Tijerina. As an example, the school plans to begin a program on July 1 with General Motors that trains high school students in automotive mechanics, he said.

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