On Monday, Oct. 15, the Bakersfield College Delano Campus unveiled its first HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) Technology Certificate of Achievement Program alongside Assemblymember Rudy Salas, Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian and Kern Community College District trustee Romeo Agbalog, among others.

This program is the only one of its kind within the Kern Community College District and is a part of Bakersfield College’s Rural Initiatives, which target BC’s surrounding communities to equip more residents with workforce skills through college education. The funding for this program comes from the monies secured by Assemblyman Rudy Salas in the 2018-2019 state budget.

“Since receiving notification of the $1 million secured by Assemblyman Rudy Salas in July, Bakersfield College has been working diligently to implement the workforce programs funded by this award. The college is proud to announce the launch of the very first of these programs in Delano, the HVAC Certificate and Associate of Science Degree Program,” said Christian. “This would never have been possible without the support of Assemblyman Salas, a champion of education as a driver for economic improvement of communities, particularly those in the rural parts of our region.”

“Bakersfield College is investing in our students and our communities to provide unique and innovative educational opportunities that will jump-start careers,” said Salas. “The HVAC program in Delano will prepare students to get into good, high-paying jobs and to start their own businesses. I applaud President Christian and BC for their continued commitment to our rural communities and empowering students to lead successful careers.”

In July, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed the 2018-2019 state budget, which included $1 million for career technical education programs at Bakersfield College and its Rural Initiatives programs.

Salas, of the 32nd District, represents part of the city of Bakersfield, as well as the rural cities of Arvin, Delano, Hanford, Shafter, McFarland, Wasco and championed for Central Valley representation in the new California budget. He has been a consistent supporter of educational initiatives, especially those affecting the more rural areas of Kern County.

“This event marks the beginning of the creation of a jobs pipeline from BC directly into the workforce,” said Agbalog. “Once the HVAC program is up and running, local area students will have the opportunity to earn an education and skills in a field of work that is in high demand with competitive wages. BC, KCCD and I remain committed to improving the quality of life in our communities through education and gainful employment, one student at a time.”

Building on the successes of the main campus, Bakersfield College evaluated programs that would make the biggest impact on rural communities, with HVAC technology being the lead. Through workforce development analysis, a strategic plan was developed to expand offerings in these areas. Bakersfield College is currently in the process of creating an HVAC Associate of Science degree for the Delano area as well.

“Delano and surrounding communities in North Kern have some of the highest unemployment rates in the county. The HVAC program in Delano will provide students in north Kern an opportunity to gain new skills that can lead to good paying jobs. Students who complete this program will be able to improve the well-being of their families and community overall,” said Bakersfield College Delano Campus Director Abel Guzman. “The HVAC program will impact a much broader population of students who otherwise might have not engaged with higher education or career training opportunities. This program is another example of how Bakersfield College is a beacon of hope for historically disadvantaged individuals in rural Kern County.”

Tamara Baker is the community relations program manager at Bakersfield College, with a focus on Measure J and A Better BC. She previously worked at Kern Economic Development Corporation as the manager of research and marketing.

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