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High school students will be more prepared to join the work force if the Career Technical Education Advisory Committee and the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District have anything to say about it.

Making students more employable was the topic of the first joint meeting at The Far Western in Orcutt on Wednesday, August 24. The discussion involved more than 40 members representing local business and educational partners sharing their ideas about what skills, technology, facilities, equipment, certifications or degrees are needed to meet industry and 21st Century employment needs.

The group was also given an introduction to the SMJUHSD’s $2 million Career Technical Education Grant (CTEIG) to help students get career and college ready. The first allocation, about $600,000, of the three-year grant has been received from the California Department of Education. The state money is part of $400 million that is earmarked career-orientated learning.

“This is the greatest thing I have heard of in a long time,’’ said Dick Melsheimer of Melfred Borzall in Santa Maria. “Modernizing ag mechanic-related equipment and welding skills would help. Keep it going.’’

Peter Mueller of Hardy Diagnostics in Santa Maria believes any courses to promote office, sales, manufacturing, technical, engineering, custodial or other training are some of the keys.

“We need young men and women who are mature enough to join the workforce, pay attention to detail and have respect for others,’’ Mueller said.

For two years, the district has been working on creating career pathways with the development of courses, Hancock College and local industry leaders. District CTE courses at Santa Maria, Righetti, Pioneer Valley and Delta high schools will all be connected to industry clusters including Arts, Media & Entertainment – Information & Communication Technologies – Energy, Environment & Utilities – Health Science &

Medical Technology – Architecture & Engineering – Business & Finance – Manufacturing & Product Development - Agriculture & Natural Resources – Hospitality, Recreation & Tourism and Public Service.

The CTEIG was created as a state education, economic, and workforce development initiative with the goal of providing pupils in kindergarten through grade twelve, inclusive, with the knowledge and skills necessary to transition to employment and postsecondary education.

The presentation was put on by SMJUHSD CTEIG Coordinator LeeAnne Del Rio and Janet Kliegl of Caldwell Flores Winters, a company helping improve district facilities.

“We really are just trying to come up with a way we can all succeed and make our community a better place,’’ Del Rio said.

Superintendent Dr. Mark Richardson described the program as “exciting”.

“This is the first time in my 28 years as an educator that there is funding for vocational education,’’ Dr. Richardson said. “It’s really something new for us. We will see this happening across the state. The district will continue to take steps to develop facilities

NONDISCRIMINATION POLICY: The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is committed to ensuring equal, fair, and meaningful access to employment and education services. The SMJUHSD does not discriminate in any employment practice, education program, or educational activity on the basis and/or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics of age, ancestry, color, disability, ethnicity, ethnic group identifications, gender, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, marital, family or parental status, medical condition, military or veteran status, nationality, national origin, immigration status, political affiliation, pregnancy and related conditions, race, religion, retaliation, sex (including sexual harassment), sexual orientation, or any other basis prohibited by California state and federal nondiscrimination laws respectively. Not all bases of discrimination will apply to both education services and employment. If you believe you have been subjected to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, immediately contact the District’s Discrimination, Equity and Title IX Compliance Officer Mr. Kevin R. Platt at 2560 Skyway Drive, Santa Maria, CA 93455, (805) 922-4573 or You may request a copy of SMJUHSD’s Uniform Complaint Procedures, Non-Discrimination Policies, Sexual Harassment Policies or click here.