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ETAP Offers Trades ‘Boot Camps’

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The ETAP program at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus helps its students prepare for gainful employment as a skilled apprentice. ETAP – short for Excellence in Trades Apprenticeship Preparation – gave those students a taste of what awaits them as skilled tradespeople during a recent series of hands-on “boot camp” training sessions.

The program held a boot camp for would-be cement masons in March, said ETAP Director Eddie Lincoln, and one for prospective carpenters in June. The camps oriented students toward the particular skills, tools, and techniques they would need to learn in order to enter each trade.

“The boot camps gave our students a solid view of what they will need on the job,” Lincoln said. “They were a great success. We’re looking into setting up some more with other trades, like equipment operators, ironworkers, and laborers.

Both camps, as well as another cement-mason session to take place next year, were carried out with the help of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry. State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian personally visited both the March and June campus, Lincoln said.

Lincoln described ETAP as a sort of gateway to skilled apprenticeships, which in turn can lead to gainful careers in the trades, often in union positions.

“We’re the ‘farm team’ for the world of apprenticeships,” he said.

ETAP students learn their craft at the recent cement mason boot camp.

A typical apprenticeship in the construction trades starts out at an average hourly wage of around $27 per hour, Lincoln said, with the possibility of earning as much as $32 per hour after a few years on the job.

ETAP teaches such things as occupational safety, tool skills, and workplace terminology, as well as things like the sort of math that’s needed on a construction site. As part of a state-certified pre-apprenticeship program, ETAP’s students are considered to be a full rank higher than other applicants when applying to become apprentices.

But the program’s influence doesn’t end when a student becomes an apprentice, Lincoln said. ETAP continues to support its students for one year after they’re on the job.

“We mentor them, we give them coaching on how to manage their personal finances, we’ll even lend them tools if necessary,” Lincoln said. “We’re committed to making sure that our students have success on the job.”

ETAP consists of an intense, 10-week training program in current trade skills, after which students are ready to begin work in the construction trades. As a bonus, students complete the program having earned eight PCC credit hours. For prospective students, the program offers free information sessions at 11:30 a.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of every month, held in Room 117 of the Technology Education Building at PCC’s Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth St.

To learn more about the ETAP program, call 971-722-5744 or visit www.pcc.edu/career/etap/.

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