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When it comes to heavy machinery, safety and practice are of the utmost importance. So, when New Vision High School Seniors Gabe and Juan showed up for their first day of forklift training, they had to conquer a simulation before getting behind the wheel.

If you’ve ever played an arcade racing game, the simulation’s setup is a bit similar. Fully equipped with a steering wheel, shifting gears, and a myriad of buttons, the simulation allowed Gabe and Juan to safely practice driving. Forklift trainer Vernon “Rocky” Heckel explained that simulators are great at exposing students to situations they might come across on the job.

“This is like the real world with much more functionality,” he said. Juan confirmed his teacher’s sentiments, stating that “the simulator makes you feel comfortable and familiar before you use a real forklift.”

a student uses a forklift simulator program

In 2022, East Union Resource Specialist Zach Franceschetti started a forklift certification program for his graduating students that were figuring out what to do after high school. This year, the program has expanded to all high schools in Manteca Unified, giving 54 students the necessary experience they need to apply as a forklift operator upon graduation. Mr. Franceschetti even helps coordinate job interviews for students after they certify.

This is all made possible through Mr. Franceschetti’s clever collaboration with the Manteca Education & Training Center (METC). The 3-day-long training is led by Mr. Heckel, a US Marine Veteran and experienced logistics professional. He leads their in-class learning and guides students as they practice on a simulator and full-size forklift.

Not all students are college bound after high school, which is why opportunities to prepare students for the workforce are so important!

  • CTE
  • METC