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School Desk Blog: Local Group Offers Help to Fill Jobs in Mendocino and Lake Counties

At Ukiah Unified School District, we endeavor to provide high-quality education to thousands of students, each with their own unique abilities and interests. We provide a wide variety of college prep classes, as well as classes and programs that prepare students for employment right out of high school. We want to prepare our students for their future, whatever that might be. Whether they chose to go to college or to seek employment after high school, we are committed to providing the instruction and knowledge for every student’s success.

When it comes to today’s job market, I think we all understand that it is complicated, and the playing field is constantly changing. It is difficult to prepare students for a future that will most likely change drastically in just a short time. One of the recent challenges nationally has been finding enough qualified applicants for jobs that are actually available. Many industries, like healthcare and construction, struggle to find qualified employees and are in constant competition to keep those employees. We are well aware of the local job market challenges, and along with the California Department of Education, we are working to build programs that prepare students to fill these positions.

The Mendocino Lake Adult & Career Education (ML ACE) group was formed in 2013 under the AB86 Adult Education Regional Planning Process. AB86 mandated that the California Department of Education and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office create 72 regions across California that aligned geographically with community college districts. ML ACE represents our region and is aligned with the Mendocino Lake Community College District. Each regional group throughout California was tasked with a 3-year planning and implementation process to rethink and redesign the way adult education services are provided in their unique region. This was done to bolster declining adult education services and programs in California after the 2008 recession.

ML ACE is made up of nine voting member organizations, multiple partner organizations, and various other community stakeholders in Mendocino and Lake Counties. In 2015, the State Legislature passed AB104, the Adult Education Block Grant (AEBG). The AEBG provided each of the regions created under AB86 with block grant funds to implement their plans. ML ACE is granted approximately $1,400,000 annually to implement their AB86 plan. ML ACE is now in year two of implementation.

ML ACE held their annual summit recently at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds in Ukiah, CA. The Mendocino Lake Adult & Career Education Summit brought together representatives from adult education, support service agencies, Mendocino College, and targeted industry sectors in the Mendocino Lake Community College District. Members were there to plan, collaborate, and share resources devoted to providing adults in our community local career pathways, and to design educational programs that will prepare members of our community for jobs right here in our area.

This was the second annual ML ACE summit, which gave members the opportunity to brainstorm, review their progress over the last year, and plan for the future. This year’s summit looked at specific industries in our region that have a difficult time finding qualified employees and worked on developing the right kind of education that will prepare individuals to fill these jobs. ML ACE has identified three local industries or pathways that they will focus on for our region which include healthcare, construction/trades, and business. The group is creating educational programs working directly with local employers from these industries.

ML ACE is currently developing a variety of new classes and employment training for adults in our community to add to what they already offer. This career training helps community members reach their personal and professional goals. Access to instruction targeted to open positions prepares students for employment immediately after completion. ML ACE has made great progress and now offers a variety of classes geared toward immediate employment in our area including phlebotomy, medical assistant, vocational nursing, EMT, CNA, dental assistant, ESL, citizenship, basic math, and basic English with more to be added soon.

The ML ACE consortium is made up of local businesses and organizations including Adventist Health, Anderson Valley Adult School, California Department of Rehabilitation, California Employment Development Department, CareerPoint, City of Lakeport, CA, City of Ukiah, CA, Coastal Adult School, Community First Credit Union, Community Foundation of Mendocino County, County of Mendocino, Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians, Granite Construction, Lake County Office of Education, Mayacama Industries, Mendocino Coast Clinics, Mendocino College, Mendocino Community Health Clinic, Mendocino County Office of Education, Mendocino County Special Education Local Plan Area, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, Mendocino Private Industry Council, North Coast Builders Exchange, People Services, Inc., Point Arena High School, Redwood Coast Regional Center, Redwood Community Services, Richmond Construction, Ukiah Adult School, Ukiah Unified School District, Ukiah Valley Association for Habilitation, Willits Unified School District, and Workforce Alliance of the North Bay.

We are a proud partner with ML ACE and are grateful to our community for offering adults and secondary students the opportunity to explore job options in our community. Through these programs and so many others, we can continue to work together to make our community strong. Visit the ML ACE website to learn more at If your organization struggles to find enough qualified job applicants, or if you want training for jobs that are in demand, ML ACE can help. Please call 707.467.1032 or email [email protected] to get started.