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For-profit University of Antelope Valley has a deal for employers

The University of Antelope Valley will pay employers up to $2,000 for each graduate they hire. There are catches: The offer is good only this month and graduates must be hired in the field in which he or she studied.

September 07, 2011|By Shan Li, Los Angeles Times

If you're looking to hire a nurse, solar panel installer or pastry chef, the University of Antelope Valley has a deal for you.

The for-profit school, based in a former motel in Lancaster, will pay employers up to $2,000 for each graduate they hire.

But there are lots of conditions, including that the offer is good only this month and the graduate must be hired in the field in which he or she studied.

In other words, if you hire one of their massage therapy graduates to be a store clerk, you don't get the money.

Marco and Sandra Johnson, the husband-and-wife owners of the college, said the initiative was dreamed up a few weeks ago as a way to kick-start the flailing local economy. Since early 2009, unemployment in Lancaster has been 15% and higher, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"A lot of companies and employers are on the fence about hiring someone new, and this could be the incentive they need to do it," said Marco Johnson, a former firefighter and paramedic whose school, which began as the Antelope Valley Medical College, stemmed from the CPR courses he began teaching in 1997. Currently, there are about 850 students enrolled in the school, which also offers online programs.

If the promotion works, it could benefit the school. Job placement is the lifeblood of for-profit colleges, said Jeffrey Silber, an analyst at BMO Capital Markets. The schools attract fresh students, and their wallets, by touting their future job and salary prospects, he said.

"This is certainly one of the most interesting approaches I've heard for attracting employers," Silber said. "But any way they can make a valid job placement only enhances their value to prospective students."

The Johnsons said their aim was to help the local community, not to make money.

"The goal is not about profit," Marco Johnson said. "We could open up shop anywhere in the country. We get phone calls regularly from people wanting to buy us out. But that's not what we're about."

shan.li@latimes.com

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