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Pathways Training Team: Dislocated
people lacking postsecondary education or an occupational credential
find themselves unemployed or trapped in low-wage, low-skill jobs
and slowly sliding into poverty. The changing global economy has
resulted in the loss of high-wage manufacturing jobs over the
past 20 years. Portland, Oregon has experienced a large number
of layoffs in the manufacturing sector including the high-tech,
heavy manufacturing, transportation, and garment industries. Layoffs
of such large numbers of workers were the impetus for the creation
of the Career Pathways Training Team at Portland Community College
Low-skilled workers need to be retrained in occupations that lead
to family-wage jobs. Most laid-off workers have approximately
six months of unemployment insurance, allowing such workers to
take at most only one or two terms of classes. Many traditional
vocational programs have staggered course offerings in their schedules,
or prerequisites that by themselves would take one or two terms
of classes. These barriers make traditional academic college programs
unattainable to the dislocated worker. In addition, there are
few opportunities for limited-English speakers to gain vocational
training. Immigrants in particular have been employed in the manufacturing
industry in large numbers; they have been severely impacted by
the loss of manufacturing jobs.
Career Pathways gives workers an opportunity to thrive in a new
career field that has growth potential. Students develop both
a career pathway and an educational pathway.
They get a chance to see themselves in a career rather than a
dead-end job. The program helps students who have never considered
college, those with limited English proficiency, low or outdated
skills, or minimum-wage job experiences. The program helps students
define career goals, get training, and find jobs within industries
that pay entry-level living wages and offer growth potential.
Career Pathways Training Team includes a number of departments:
and Government – Cascade Campus
Business and Industrial Technology – Sylvania Campus
Criminal Justice – Cascade Campus
Institute for Health Professionals – Central Portland Workforce
Medical Technology and Science – Cascade Campus
variety of community-based organizations and government agencies
partners with PCC to implement Career Pathways, as well as industry
and trade associations, labor unions, local employers, Mt. Hood
Community College, One Stop Career Centers, and worksystems, inc.
Pathways is funded through a grant from worksystems, inc., Portland’s
local Workforce Investment Board (WIB). Initial funding allowed
for start-up of both program components: English as a Second Language
(ESL) Vocational and the Professional Technical credit component.
The ongoing cost of the program is supported with this grant along
with tuition and fees paid by the students. Students are directed
to One Stop Career Centers, the Dislocated Workers Program site,
food stamp programs, financial aid offices, and other funding
sources to help pay tuition and fees.
Sources include U.S. Department of Labor funds administrated by
worksystems, inc.; a U.S. Department of Labor Metals grant; tuition
and fees; and the Multnomah-Washington County Regional Investment
features of the Career Pathway Training Program include
to community organizations for recruitment;
Cohort model that builds relationships and confidence with peers;
Job readiness curriculum to prepare students for the world
Coursework grouped and scheduled into manageable chunks;
Job placement, internship, and job retention services;
Strong partnerships with employers and college academic departments;
Ongoing program development and evaluation tied to the labor
ESL Vocational Training began in 1999 with one instruction in
health care. Since that time, the program has added trainings
in Food Service, Office Skills, Nursing Assistance, and Medical
Terminology. In the fall of 2001, the Professional Technical component
launched Accounting and Bookkeeping, followed by Criminal Justice
and Corrections, Phlebotomy, and CNC Operator in the winter of
following Career Pathway training programs have been created,
primarily in the health care industry, to serve adult English
language learners who have been laid off or are unemployed or
Healthcare Program. A four-month intensive program designed
to introduce non-native English speakers to entry-level jobs
in the health care field. Jobs include medical records keeping,
sterile processing, lab assisting, physical therapy assistance,
and pharmacy packing.
Food Service Program. A four-month intensive program designed
to introduce non-native English speakers to entry-level jobs
in food service within institutional settings. It concentrates
on leveraging the employer relationships created and maintained
for heath care training.
Office Skills Program. A five-month intensive program designed
to introduce non-native English speakers to entry-level office
work in social services, health care, and government. Students
develop updated computer and office skills.
Nursing Assistant Program. A four-month intensive program
designed in collaboration with PCC’s Institute of Health Professionals
to prepare non-native English speakers for work as nursing assistants
and for state certification process.
Medical Terminology Class. A 10-week class that offers
intensive medical terminology in an ESL format. This class is
offered as a supplement to all the other trainings that offer
careers in health care.
following Professional Technical credit programs have been created
to serve people who are unemployed or underemployed:
Accounting and Bookkeeping. Students attend classes
five afternoons per week for 11 weeks as a cohort. Classes are
scheduled so that prerequisites can be taken the first half
of the term and the next classes the second half of the term.
A job readiness class is part of this program. The jobs being
trained for are entry-level jobs as account clerk. The course
provides 14 credits of a 44-credit career pathway.
Justice and Corrections. Students attend classes four evenings
a week in cohort. Classes are scheduled so that students gain
the best mix of instruction. A job readiness class is part of
this program one afternoon per week. Students may continue for
an additional term and receive an internship in a local corrections
facility. The program targets entry-level jobs within a corrections
facility or community-based release program. It provides 12 credits
of a 97-credit program.
Students attend classes four evenings a week, along with one
afternoon of job readiness class. This program is a mix of credit
and noncredit classes. Students spend over 120 clinical hours
in a hospital or clinic at the end of the training. Jobs in
these labs and clinics are targeted. This program exceeds the
national standard for training phlebotomists.
Operator. Students attend classes five days a week. A job
readiness class is held each day during this 11-week program.
Students work as a cohort, learning basic CNC machine operator
skills. The program provides entry-level and midlevel training
as a CNC operator. Students hold internships in a local machine
shop at the end of instruction and earn 20 credits in the program
Skills Training Certificate (EST). Credentialing is important
to students seeking jobs as well as to employers seeking qualified
workers. In summer 2002, PCC received approval for a new occupational
skills credential from the Oregon Department of Community Colleges
and Workforce Development. The new state-sanctioned Employment
Skills Training Certificate provides, for 12 to 44 credits,
a recognized credential in a specific occupation. Employment
Skills Training Certificates will be awarded to students completing
the Accounting and Bookkeeping, Criminal Justice and Corrections,
and CNC Operator Career Pathway trainings.
and Lessons Learned
ESL Vocational Career Pathway Program has achieved a 90 percent
job retention rate since its inception in 1999. Between 75 and
80 percent of the students are placed into a job within 60 days
of completing the training.
its first year, Career Pathways Professional Technical Training
built a foundation for success. The program is raising funds to
enhance the job development component. Job placement is growing;
at the same time, students are deciding to stay in school and
continue their education. Prior to participation in the program,
many did not envision themselves as successful college students.
Both job placement and continuing education are now recognized
as successful outcomes of the program.
providing access, training, and wraparound services such as job
readiness and placement, adult workers move from low-wage, dead-end
employment to careers with growth potential. Participants gain
both a new mindset and a new skill set.
more information, contact
Director of Workforce Development Programs
Portland Community College
article is from the forthcoming book, Building a Workforce
System Through Partnering, to be published this month by the
League for Innovation in the Community College and Microsoft Corporation.