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Training new employees for circuit board companies
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. – It was a day to remember. A dozen graduates of Portland Community College’s Entry-Level High Tech Skills Training program performed songs and presented cultural skits to a crowd of family and high-tech industry representatives during a one-hour graduation last month at the Capital Career Center. In return, they got a certificate and a whole new career. The students hailed from Iran, India, Pakistan, Latin America and beyond. The students are all non-native English speakers, who were recruited by Portland Community College for a consortium of circuit board manufacturers in Washington County to take a six-week skills program that will allow them a pathway into the high-tech field. "I have noticed over the years that although we may bring people in on an individual basis, working together, they become very good friends," said Eduardo Garnica, employment specialist with workforce development at PCC. "After the graduation ceremony they all want to stay in touch with each other, which is a great thing." The Entry-Level High Tech Skills Training program is a free course at Capital Career Center (18624 N.W. Walker Road). Orientations for the program will be held through Sept. 7, with training being held Sept. 19 through Oct. 28. Orientations are offered at the following sites: * 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Aug. 24, 31 and Sept. 7 (Capital Career Center, 18624 N.W. Walker Rd., room 1509). * 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Aug. 26 (Hillsboro Employment Department, 265 S.E. Oak Street, Suite A). * 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26 and Thursday, Sept. 1 (Forest Grove Employment and Training Center, 2801 Pacific Ave.). The classes consist of an introduction to the high tech industry; a tour of the consortium’s companies; safety on the job; communication and teamwork; an introduction to statistical process control; learning employer expectations; and reading, writing, math and basic computer skills. Training also includes job-search workshops and assistance in placement after completion. Individuals must be 18 years of age or older; have proper work authorization documents (documents will be verified); conversational English skills; and possess basic math skills. Consortium members include Merix Corporation, Vanguard EMS and Benchmark Electronics. The electronic manufacturing consortium plans to hire from the pool of students completing the training. The program will offer job-search assistance. Each student will get an opportunity to not only train for a new career, but interview with a company. Ninety-five percent of the students from the Entry Level High Tech Skills Training program get hired. "PCC goes out and recruits, looking in the community and in our ESL classes for prospective students," Garnica said. "The people come to different orientations and begin an assessment process. We speak to each person and make sure they are right for the program." At the end of the six-week training, there is the graduation where students perform individually or as a group to showcase their cultures and diversity. The ceremony is just another example of how the short-term training fosters teamwork. "Teamwork is a vital part of work in the high-tech field," Garnica said. "The manufacturing companies in the program put the students into teams and they learn to work very well with one another. It helps bond them together." For more information on the program, contact Garnica, employment specialist in PCC workforce development, at 503-992-7397.