Mr. Joe Castro Director of Safety and Human Resources for Retro-Tech Systems (RTS) contacted the Fred G. Acosta Job Corps Center- Tucson AZ in the Spring of 2008 seeking qualified Electrical Wiring and Plumbing graduates to work for the company as Technicians.

Remembering my initial phone conversation with him he described RTS as a nationwide corporation working in engineering, designing and installing energy-efficient lighting systems for commercial, industrial, governmental, retail, medical and educational facilities.

Mr. Castro said, “The southwest and west coast is our fastest growing markets.  This center could be instrumental in providing RTS with qualified workers as projects get started.”    Due to the numerous companies over the years that have promised job offers to students yet failed to deliver, we wondered if this was a “too good to be true” scenario.

Nevertheless, after being presented with an opportunity such as this, we had to be optimistic for our students.  Mr. Castro was warmly invited to the Acosta Job Corps Center where he met with the Center Director, Career Transition staff, Home Builders Institute Instructors and students alike to explore new possibilities.

This cordial, serious and business savvy executive was impressed with the amount of enthusiasm, attention and respect that the students exhibited during his visit.

He wanted to learn more about the Work Based Learning (Hands on Training) program.  He even brainstormed an idea to house possible RTS WBL students at other job corps centers in various U.S. cities where RTS would have work projects.

Great idea, but this would be too sophisticated and complex for Job Corps to manage with the transferring of students between other centers.  However, after several conversations, dialogue and faith a marriage was born between Acosta Job Corps and RTS!

Mr. Castro  was serious about hiring our graduates so subsequent visits to the Acosta Job Corps Center was set up where RTS Project Managers came to Tucson to train and prep prospective RTS candidates.  RTS staff gave lectures on safety practices in the workplace, hands on training on what to expect in the field, discussions on work ethics, and employability skills.  These events were accentuated by the lighting equipment donated to the center by RTS for students to practice their newly acquired skills.

The students were appreciative and excited to be given consideration for an opportunity to start a career upon completing the Job Corps/ HBI Electrical Wiring and Plumbing program under the instruction of Gerardo Ortiz and John Gallagher respectively.

RTS hires productive, self motivated candidates that demonstrate positive work ethics with a willingness to learn and grow with the company.  A clean driving record, background check and drug testing are all routine procedures.  Technician’s base rate of pay is $18.00 per hour but some Acosta graduates have earned as high as $66.00 per hour on prevailing wage contracts.

RTS and their sister company RTS Water Solution provide water, energy and environmental cost savings through implementation of energy efficiency lighting  and water reduction technologies and is accredited by NAESCO (National Association of Energy Service Companies). This complements Job Corp’s Nationwide Green Initiative training programs which  incorporates green technologies training within the vocations.

Since 2008, RTS and Mr. Castro has hired and opened the doors of opportunity to 17 Fred G. Acosta graduates.  Their job which requires much traveling has taken them to various states such as Florida, Virginia, Texas, Illinois, Nevada, New York, and Arizona.   I am also proud to mention that they have become amongst the highest paid and successful Job Corps graduates across the nation and remain to be inspirational and motivating for our new generation of graduates.  “Too good to be true?” Not for Fred G. Acosta Job Corps!

By Aishah Muhammad – Career Transition Specialist

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