Gail Leach Carvelli
Although Sasco Data Systems (Mountain View, CA) knew the key to success was a well-trained work force, it didn`t have the resources to set up a comprehensive training program. So, the company turned to the state for help and, approximately one year later, received a $337,000 technology training block grant.
"To maintain our market share and to remain competitive on a global level, our employees need to know the latest telecommunications technology," says David Bullock, technical support manager. "The state realized that and worked with us."
Sasco Data Systems, a subsidiary of Sasco Electric, one of the nation`s largest electrical contractors, applied for the funds through the California Employment Training Panel (ETP). The company worked with RSL Associates (Los Angeles, CA), an organization that determines training needs and then tries to secure state funds.
Robert Smith of RSL, who helped coordinate the project, says the state selects companies based on their economic impact. "In the early 1990s, many companies were leaving the state," he says. "In response, the state created the ETP to help keep companies in California and to help them remain competitive. These types of employees need to be continually retrained to keep them current with the industry."
Since its inception in 1983, ETP has awarded $450 million to more than 22,000 companies for training programs. "The program is really an economic development tool for the state," Smith notes. "If these people are retrained, it keeps them from being laid off, and ending up on unemployment."
In addition to securing funding, RSL also helps coordinate a company`s training program and secure the best trainers. Sasco`s program will cover two telecommunications areas. "The training program is twofold," says Bullock. "The money will be divided 50/50 between fiber-optic, and local-area and wide-area network (lan/wan) training."
Nearly 50 field technicians will take part in the fiber optics program, receiving 150 hours of instruction from various companies, such as Siecor Corp., AMP Inc. and AT&T. Approximately 60 people will take part in the lan/wan training, covering Asynchronous Transfer Mode, Integrated Services Digital Network, routers, hubs and bridges. Every two weeks, the students will leave the classroom and test their skills in the field.
Although Bullock admits that the training program helps solidify his company`s spot in the market, he says it also "builds a real allegiance with our employees. It helps not only us, but our employees, too."