Adam Loux readily admits that he's made some mistakes.
But after getting clean through Stanislaus County's yearlong Drug Court program, which involves frequent drug tests and group therapy, he's eager to move on with his life and find steady employment.
That's why he enrolled in a free weeklong "boot camp" academy that trains people for entry-level jobs in the manufacturing industry. Those who finish the course are guaranteed a job interview with a major manufacturer in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.
"I don't have a lot of job history," said Loux, 26, of Modesto. "But with a program like this, I can come in and be honest about my background and be given a second chance."
The training was held at the Westview Gardens Community Center in west Modesto and funded by a grant from Paradise South Weed and Seed. It is run by the Alliance Worknet.
Participants were required to pass a drug test, employment screening, interview, and reference and background checks, said coordinator Martha Sanchez of the Alliance Worknet. It was the first boot camp academy to be held in Stanislaus County.
Out of 46 applicants, 16 were selected and all completed the program. A waiting list of about 100 people is in place for the next boot camp academy, which is tentatively scheduled for July, Sanchez said.
"Some people are coming in with lots of work history who were laid off," Sanchez said. "Others had awesome references and good interviews, but they have stuff in their past that they are trying to overcome."
The boot camp academy started April 28, and culminated with a day of interviews with five employers Friday. During a class session last week, the students broke into pairs and practiced measuring items around the room with a tape measure.
Other class sessions focused on issues such as workplace safety, résumé writing, employer expectations, interview skills, forklift training and certification. They also took a work-skills test called WorkKeys that measures basic workplace skills in reading for information, mathematics and locating information.
The graduates interviewed for jobs paying $10 to $16 per hour.
Sarah Mullen, a human resources representative for Hilmar Cheese Co., one of the five employers participating in the program, said the boot camp academy is similar to the company's screening process and training.
"These students have demonstrated their commitment to be an on-time reliable employee, passed initial drug and WorkKeys screening, and learned important team building and safety skills, all important for our business," she said.
Other participating employers are E.&J. Gallo Winery, Pacific Southwest Container, Frito-Lay and Seneca Foods. Sanchez said the goal is to place 100 percent of participants in jobs, although organizers won't have final statistics for about a month.
Jim Weaver, vice president of human resources of Pacific Southwest Container, said he hopes to add at least one or two graduates to his work force.
"If people that say they are looking for jobs and are ambitious and give a darn, we'll sure invite them to interview," he said.
The boot camp academy started in 2003 in Sacramento County. It has a 79 percent placement rate and 84 percent retention rate there, said Terry Paterson, a representative for the California Employers Association and instructor for the course.
Work force officials wanted to bring that success to Stanislaus County, which has seen rising unemployment as the housing market slumped, along with a demand by area manufacturers for quality and drug-free employees.
Loux is familiar with the statistics. He applied for the program because of the high number of job placements. Retention won't be an issue, he said, because if an employer offers him a position, he'll succeed.
"I'm confident that if I can get in, I will retain that job," Loux said.
Other participants are equally optimistic.
Sures Prasad, 48, of Hughson was let go from his job laying tile and grout after residential building in the region slowed to a halt. He looked for work for about five months before enrolling in the boot camp.
"This is better than staying home," he said. "I've learned a lot. I have high hopes."
Gabrielle Griggs, 25, recently moved to Modesto from Oakland and was surprised when she landed a spot in the boot camp academy.
"I need to be doing something with my life, regardless of my past flaws," she said. "We all come from different backgrounds, different lifestyles, but now I have a chance to interview with a big company."
Bee staff writer Christina Salerno can be reached at email@example.com or 238-4574.