Program can help San Diegans get raises

Tens of thousands of San Diegans got raises when minimum wage rose this week, but a program now accepting applications can help them learn the skills to get their own pay hikes. 

Juan Gomez didn't always have the brightest career prospects. He was digging pools and laying concrete, but the Great Recession cut his hours.

"There wasn't a lot of work for construction, so I wanted to work 40 hours even if they didn't pay as much as the beginning," he said. 

So he took a job in shipping and receiving at Santee's Quality Control Manufacturing Inc., which builds aerospace and power generation equipment. He said a machinist took him under his wing and he learned skills that led to bigger paychecks. 

"And eventually I just kept getting moved up," Gomez said. 

Now, that same door is open for more San Diegans who want to make sense of the massive equipment that lines the 70,000-plus square foot factory. The company is accepting applications for its free, six-month training program. The program is free, and requires nine hours a week. Application information can be found here

At the end, participants are placed in jobs that start around $12 an hour, but QTMC owner Bob Grande said they could eventually earn double or triple. 

"We give them the foundation of what they need to know to advance in a career and eventually become journeymen," he said. 

Gomez said things are still looking up. 

"I've never had a problem getting a raise," he said. 

At least since he got his foot in the door. 

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