It started with some manufacturers getting together with a vision to build a world-class career and technical education ecosystem in their area. The Fresno [California] Business Council incubated the idea and about four years ago began taking an inventory of what was available from an educational standpoint for career and technical programs for a variety of industries. They surveyed an eight-county area, and according to Mike Betts, chairman and CEO of Betts Company, “We found we had some good programs, but we also had some programs that were faltering from lack of investment.”
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Following the assessment, Betts and other business leaders held task force meetings with education partners at high schools, community colleges, and universities, as well as with local government officials, to discuss what was and wasn’t working when it came to educational opportunities in the career and technical arenas. They also talked about best practices, including the need for accredited instructors, certification, and dual enrollment.
One big gap they discovered was that there was not a medium- and heavy-duty truck technician training program anywhere in California’s Central Valley. The closest programs were at least 200 miles away. But Reedley College, located in California’s San Joaquin Valley, had an ag/diesel program. Betts says the group was able to work with Reedley to widen the ag/diesel program so it became National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation accredited for ASE (National Association for Automotive Service Excellence) master technician programs.
The group did not stop there. It also worked with Duncan Polytec, the only 100% career technical high school in the area, to develop a truck technician program.
“Our brand new heavy truck program covers ASE master technician content, and students enrolled in the program will then be able to matriculate into the Reedley College program,” Betts explains. The program is set up as