The National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) is a valuable program from the U.S. Department of Labor that’s empowering farmworkers across the country to take control of their financial futures and improve their lives. 

Here’s the story of one of those farmworkers, Francisco Rodriguez Rodriguez.

Francisco came to the US when he was just 15 years old. At that time, he didn’t have a visa and, like many other immigrant teens, he wasn’t able to complete high school or learn English because he was busy working long hours to help his parents who were still in Mexico. 

All together, Francisco spent 18 years working in the agriculture fields. He eventually advanced all the way up to Crew Lead but he was still making only $15.50 per hour. When you take the cost of living on the Central Coast into consideration, that might as well be pennies. Plus, Francisco was married with three kids (aged 18, 13, and 2) at the time which only added to his financial and familial responsibilities.   

When Francisco eventually enrolled in the Welding Fabrication job training program at CET Watsonville, he had very little computer literacy and basic skills. Those would have been big enough obstacles already but the pandemic and COVID-related regulations just made everything more difficult for Francisco as CET and other schools had to shift to online and hybrid instruction. 

Recalling his initial barriers, he recently told his Admissions Advisor, Ana Maria Hernandez, “Do you remember how afraid I was when I came to enroll? I did not believe I could learn, but my wife, you, and the instructor, Angel, all believed in me. And when I almost quit, my wife’s support and the patience of my teacher kept me going.”

He was immensely grateful to find that his many years laboring in the fields would pay for his Welding Fabrication training program tuition as a recipient of the National Farmworker Jobs Program and Dislocated Agricultural Worker Program grant funds.

With those grant funds, a whole lot of determination, and some help from his teachers and the support staff at CET, Francisco was able to graduate from the Welding Fabrication training program. 

From there, Francisco went on to start his own business, charging $25.00 per hour and working full time. That’s a particularly incredible accomplishment considering that he did it while several hundred thousand small businesses were going bankrupt during the pandemic. 

While he remained self-employed from November of 2020 until May 2021, Francisco’s determination to provide his family with the security of homeownership led him to pursue more stable employment. He was promptly hired by Cypress Coast Fence. Within just two months of employment as a welder, Francisco was able to gain a $2 raise through his commitment and hard work. We’re sure his success will continue!

Francisco is passionate about welding and is grateful to have gained the skills he has from his training at Watsonville CET and the support he received through the National Farmworker Jobs Program in funding his dreams.

Are you ready to make a change?

You, too, can change your life with a job training program at CET. If you qualify under the NFJP, you may not even need to pay out of pocket for your training. Visit the Farmworker Admissions page to learn more about the specifics for NFJP.

Reach out today to learn more about the variety of job training programs available at CET and how they can change your future. You never know what a difference it could make!