The Ventura College Diesel Mechanic program has added Keith Barnard to its Advisory Committee. Barnard is director of global grower relations for Mission Produce, one of the largest avocado operations in the world, with operations in six countries and distribution facilities throughout the United States, all of which rely heavily on medium- to heavy-duty diesel equipment.
The Ventura College Diesel Mechanic program was created in response to the growing need for qualified diesel technicians. The program was brought to Ventura College in 2016 through Gibbs Truck Centers, which provided funding and an on-site lab facility at the Gibbs center in Oxnard.
”Diesel engines power almost all the medium and heavy trucks in the US and two-thirds of all the mobile farm equipment” said Ed Gibbs, President of Gibbs Truck Centers. “Having an experienced ag industry expert like Keith as part of the Advisory Committee will help ensure the program is producing job-ready graduates who have the technical expertise, as well as the problem solving and ‘soft’ skills required for today’s diesel repair facilities, including those servicing the ag sector.”
A third-generation Ventura County resident, Barnard is a graduate of Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. He joined the family business, Mission Produce, in 2007, starting as a field representative where he learned first-hand, the ins and outs of the agriculture business. As director of global grower relations, Barnard has been instrumental in helping Mission Produce further promote California avocados both domestically and in export markets.
“We currently have quite a shortage of local qualified diesel truck technicians. The increasing demands of diesel technology in terms of greater pollution reduction and fuel economy add a new element to the training needed,” said Barnard. “The Diesel Mechanic program here at Ventura College is an excellent industry solution, preparing job-ready workers to fill the spots vacated by so many experienced technicians who are aging or retiring.”
Gibbs helped to establish the Diesel Mechanics program at Ventura College with a donation of nearly $1 million in cash and in-kind equipment and support. Two of the company’s service bays have become lab instruction facilities for students to gain hands-on, work-based training experience. Students in the program also complete classroom coursework required for careers in diesel electronics and diagnostics, and in diesel engines and repair. The program curriculum is approved by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation.
“Because many students face financial barriers, we also have an essential partnership with the Ventura College Foundation, which has a robust scholarship and grant program to help all students realize their educational goals,” said Kathleen Schrader, DNS, RN dean of career and technical education at Ventura College. “Of our initial 24 students, 22 are receiving textbooks through the Foundation.”
“The diesel engine service market is predicted to grow nearly 10 percent over the next decade in Southern California,” noted Norbert Tan, executive director of the Ventura College Foundation. “Our region depends on diesel truck service for shipping in a variety of industries, including agriculture, and therefore, is very much reliant on expert technicians, making this partnership between Ventura College and Gibbs Truck Centers especially important,” Tan added.
“The Ventura College Foundation plays a critical role by helping to make it financially feasible for students who want to participate in this highly-desirable training program, but can’t swing it financially on their own,” Tan said. “Only Ventura College provides this kind of training at $46 a unit, along with the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree. It’s truly a win-win for everyone.”
The Diesel Mechanic program is one of 26 Ventura College core initiatives for workforce and economic development. Other programs include Agriculture Business, Auto Technology, Biotechnology, Construction Technology, Criminal Justice, Emergency Medical Technology (EMT), Manufacturing Technology, Nursing Science (School of Nursing and Allied Health), Water Science and Welding.
Established in 1983, the Ventura College Foundation provides financial support to the students and the programs of Ventura College to facilitate student success and grow the impact and legacy of Ventura College as a vital community asset. The Foundation also hosts the Ventura College Foundation Marketplace, an outdoor shopping experience held every weekend on the Ventura College campus east parking lot. For more information, contact Norbert Tan at (805) 289-6160 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit www.venturacollege.edu/foundation.