After graduating this week from a training program at Valley College, about 80 workers laid off from San Fernando Valley companies will begin new jobs at Burbank Aeronautical Corp. on Monday.
Through the efforts of a team of public agencies, companies and Valley College representatives, workers spent four weeks in the classroom and on the job learning new techniques.
Many workers came from plumbing-fixtures maker Price Pfister Inc. in Pacoima and garment manufacturer Olga Co. in Van Nuys, and they had to quickly master the different skills required by Burbank Aeronautical, which specializes in producing parts that reduce noise from jet airplane engines.
Funding for the program comes from the federal Trade Act Program, which helps workers negatively affected by the North American Free Trade Agreement or layoffs caused by companies' exporting of jobs.
Since NAFTA's implementation in 1994, more than 124,600 U.S. workers have been certified to receive retraining, income support and relocation allowances under the program.
Art Tellechea, manager of the state Employment Development Department's San Fernando office, said the more than 500 layoffs at Price Pfister in particular necessitated a rapid collaboration between public and private entities.
"No one thought we could push it through this fast, but we put it on a fast track and it worked," he said. "There are a lot of people working in full-time positions where there are opportunities for upward mobility. . . . Out of all the people who entered the training, only one was unable to make the transition."