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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Training Facility Shuts Doors

A training facility in North Hollywood for manufacturing workers closed its doors this month to make way for the proposed Valley Plaza retail project. The National Tooling and Machining Association facility on Victory Boulevard near Laurel Canyon Boulevard falls into a city of Los Angeles redevelopment district now owned by developer J.H. Snyder Co. The training center ended its last class in mid-August and the association is deciding what to do with its equipment, said Dan Watts, a trustee with NTMA Training Centers of Southern California. The NTMA, however, plans to continue training in the Valley by providing instructors and course material for in-house training at several Valley manufacturers while also negotiating with the North Valley Occupational Center to provide computer-aided manufacturing training, Watts said. Besides being in the way of the Valley Plaza project, the facility’s closure involved other factors, namely not having enough students to keep it going and a decrease in state funding for training. “We were concerned about what to do out there,” Watts said. “We weren’t getting enough entry level students to make it viable. And you can’t keep it open with the retraining students.” The closure reduced the number of NTMA training centers to two from four it had four years ago. A center in Costa Mesa closed about 18 months ago because it couldn’t attract manufacturing students in an area populated with high-tech industry. The manufacturing industry as a whole faces difficulties in attracting a qualified workforce. NTMA Chairman Mike Mittler places the reason on loss of manufacturing jobs and a false perception there is no place for people to go in the industry. “There is still great opportunity but however we still need to attract those people to come into our industry,” Mittler said. Mark Wilkinson, of Prompt Machine Products in Chatsworth, said that while the center’s closing may not have a big effect it does cut off an avenue of education in the manufacturing field. The industry as a whole falls short in educating potential manufacturing workers, said Wilkinson, president of the NTMA chapter in the Valley. “It’s not just everybody else’s fault we’re not getting employees,” Wilkinson said. “It’s the fault of our industry. We don’t get involved enough with what we need.” The association opened the training facility in a 10,000-square foot space about four years ago. Its students were of two types: new hires receiving 16 weeks of instruction funded through the California State Employment Training Panel, and workers upgrading their skills in a 12-week session. To get the state funding, the responsibility to find jobs for the new hires fell to the association. But the state’s contribution to the new hire training was cut several years ago, leading the center to accept students paying with loans, grants and scholarships. The new hire program for the paying students, however, wasn’t all that successful, Watts said, because of a lack of involvement by employers. “It was a little hard getting the support from the community out there,” Watts said. The last classes for paying students ended about three months ago. As the association clears out of the North Hollywood space, the equipment there may end up at NTMA training centers in Norwalk and Ontario.

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