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PCC’s Entry Level High Tech Training: Iranian finds path to employment
Photos and Story by James Hill
Iranian Seifollah Mojab, 50, of Northwest Portland just north of Beaverton, spent 12 years trying to immigrate to the United States. Three years ago, he was finally able to move his family to Oregon to escape the political turmoil of his home country.
“The goal was to save my family and put my family in a safe environment for a better future,” Mojab said. “I feel I did the correct thing.”
But he needed to find a job to support his family so he turned to PCC.
Mojab had been laid off from his first job here after just three months at a local plant manufacturing parts for Toyota cars. After taking the placement test, he spotted a flier advertising the Entry Level High Tech Skills Training Program. In 2008, he was accepted into the program, which lasted a mere seven weeks.
“It was very good training,” Mojab said. “This training helped me a lot to get familiar working in the U.S., especially in high tech field. I learned not only about the training, but also the industry and how to improve my skills in communications and how to help my family.”
The entry-level training is through PCC’s Washington County Workforce Development program and aims to help people gain employment in the high-tech sector. The Entry Level High Tech Skills Training Program is a partnership between Vanguard-EMS, Precision Wire Components, Axiom Electronics and ViaSystems. This program is financed in whole or in part with funds provided through Worksystems Inc., via the U.S. Department of Labor.
Read more about the history of the program and how the employers feel about it.
The training program gives students the opportunity to tour local high tech companies, gain math skills for manufacturing work, learn communication and teamwork skills, explore quality systems like lean manufacturing, gain instruction on basic hand tools such as calipers and micrometers, work in component identification, and get 20-hours of soldering.
Mojab was interviewed twice by Vanguard, at the beginning of the program during a group interview with the other companies, and at the end. The company knew him and so, when a previous student was leaving Vanguard, the company encouraged him to apply. He was hired as a staging associate, getting further on-the-job training to help him understand processing components while developing his English skills.
As economic conditions worsened, Vanguard went through a round of layoffs and Mojab lost his job. But because of his job performance, his entry-level training and his positive attitude, they called him back to work after less than a month. This time, he received additional support from the company and was promoted to surface mount technology operator. This couldn’t have happened if Mojab hadn’t had the initial entry-level training at PCC.
“I focused on my job and then, if I got a question, I could ask anybody who could help me and they helped me a lot, especially my trainer,” he said. “She helped me learn in a very good way. Every day I learned more and more. It’s a very nice place here. Everything is very good.”
Now? Mojab and his family are doing well three years after moving from Iran. From having no job to gaining brief employment to suffering through several layoffs to having a solid job in the high-tech industry, Mojab is a success story illustrating what community colleges can do with business and industry.
“Now my daughter is 12 and my son is almost 18 and they are all successful, too,” he added. “I’m proud of them. They learn things really fast. My son jumped from high school to the early college program, studying aviation. (My entry-level training) affected my whole life. I’m too lucky to have seen that poster. If I didn’t see it I don’t know where I’d be right now.”