Five months of intense training may have felt like a lifetime to these budding professionals, but on Wednesday they welcomed a lifetime of possibility after graduating from the Regional Occupational Program.
The free, rigorous job training program which is funded by Chevron in partnership with the Contra Costa County Office of Education, prepares local residents for careers in industrial facilities, including the Richmond Refinery. Along with learning technical skills including basics in mechanics, mathematics and chemistry, trainees also learn communication and analytical skills, safety practices, how to work independently and as part of a team, and are trained at interviewing for jobs.
The award-winning program also has a strong track record of placing graduates in good-paying jobs.
On Wednesday, elated graduates from the Process Plant Operator (PPO) and Industrial Maintenance Mechanic (IMM) programs were lauded for exhibiting hard work and dedication.
The PPO course prepares students for entry level jobs operating refinery equipment, such as heating, lubrication, or refining systems. The IMM class prepares students for entry-level maintenance/mechanic jobs, such as a welder/pipefitter, electrician and machinist.
Some program participants juggled their training schedule while holding down other jobs.
“What you have accomplished is a pretty great thing,” instructor John Ghiringelli told graduates Wednesday. “It’s going to help you along your way in your future employment, whether with Chevron or somewhere else. These employment skills we’re teaching you, these interview skills that you guys learned, they will help take you a long way. You are at a much higher level than a civilian. You’ve been trained; you know this stuff.
The instructor emphasized to graduates the importance of practicing what they’ve learned in the coming years in order to keep their skills fresh.
Graduates were all smiles Wednesday – a tight-knit group after five busy months together — and grateful for the education.
“Everything in the class was great. From day one until the end, I learned a lot of stuff and met a lot of great people,” one graduate said Wednesday. “I work in the mornings and always look forward to coming to class. It’s something fresh, something different…every day, Mondays through Thursdays. It’s overall a great experience.”
After the program ends, Chevron officials often track graduates and support their search for jobs, whether it is with Chevron or another employer.
“Chevron is committed to increasing our local hiring by training our community’s workforce,” said Andrea Bailey, community engagement manager at Chevron Richmond. “It’s truly gratifying to see these graduates explore new careers and pursue their dreams. The ROP program is also helping to ensure the Refinery can tap qualified local workers for future positions, including those associated with the upcoming $1 billion Chevron Richmond Refinery Modernization Project.”
Currently, the ROP program is seeking new registrants for its upcoming classes, which begin July 25.
To register, sign up at www.cccoe.net/rop/signup.