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PCC Partnership to Give Workers Pathway to Success
Photos and Story by James Hill
BEAVERTON, Ore. – Unemployed workers and limited-English speakers of Washington County now have a pathway to find employment in the high-tech world. Portland Community College’s Pathways Project, which includes partnerships with Merix Corporation, the Multnomah-Washington Regional Investment Board, the Washington County Strategic Investment Program and Worksystems, Inc., will implement a program that will train under-served people for high-tech jobs and create an educational pathway to enter the industry. PCC received a $290,000 grant to implement the program. Julie Wyckoff-Byers, director of the PCC Capital Career Center workforce development programs, said, "We’re creating a pipeline for the local workforce to enter the high-tech industry, so companies don’t have to recruit from out-of-state or out-of-country."The grant consists of $88,079 from the Multnomah-Washington Regional Investment Board, and cash and in-kind contributions of $201,354 from Merix Corp., PCC, Washington County Strategic Investment Program and Worksystems, Inc. The two-year grant will run through May of 2004. The project will enable Washington County residents who have a wide range of skill levels to enter high-tech employment and move up the economic ladder. The project will include several levels of activity. First, a five-week training course will prepare low-income, limited-English speakers for employment in the high-tech industry. A consortium of businesses will hire from the pool of trained workers and develop continued financial support when the grant dollars are exhausted. The project intends to serve 60 limited-English speakers and help 45 gain entry-level jobs in the high-tech industry, starting at $8.50 per hour. The second stage of the program is 16-weeks of semiconductor manufacturing training for entry-level operators and technicians. In this second phase, students will take non-credit courses as well as college credit courses towards an associate’s degree. Once individuals complete their education, they will be able to earn an even higher wage.PCC is recruiting candidates for the free training program, which will start Nov. 18 and run through March 21 of 2003. Candidates must be 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED, documentation to work in the United States and be proficient in college-level algebra. Contact Eduardo Garnica at PCC, 503-533-2819, to apply. The Pathways Project is a collaborative effort bridging workforce development with economic development agencies, private businesses and community organizations. In addition to Merix, Viasystems Portland, Inc. and Matsushita Electronic Materials, Inc. have made a commitment to the consortium. The economic development offices of both Beaverton and Hillsboro support the project, said Wyckoff-Byers. "The collaboration demonstrates that Washington County has an educational program to train the local workforce for the high-tech industry,"she said.