Pamplin Media Group – New Learning Program a Hillsboro Schools Pipeline

Students train for two years for entry-level jobs in Hillsboro’s growing semiconductor industry.

Hillsboro’s growing demand for entry-level makers has prompted the city government, school district and local business leaders to partner on a new high school apprenticeship program that is a pipeline for new young workers.

The Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship, offered by Century High School, trains juniors and seniors to perform entry-level manufacturing jobs for Hillsboro’s large semiconductor industry.

Local companies like Jireh Semiconductor directly sponsor students, hiring them as employees when they begin the program.

Over two years, students will gain more than 2,000 hours of experience, both in the classroom and on site, while performing real job duties.

“We started this conversation a few years ago, bringing in industry partners to talk to our teachers about their workforce needs,” said Claudia Rizo Mendoza, Learning Project Manager. for young people in the Hillsboro School District. “(We built this program) to target the needs that currently exist in our community.”

The Monday, August 29 announcement came as Oregon seeks to bolster its semiconductor industry.

While Hillsboro has long been the heart of the Silicon Forest home to America’s top computer chip designers and processors, global competition has intensified in recent decades. This has prompted political action, such as the CHIPS Act that Congress passed last month to subsidize semiconductor manufacturing in the United States.

Oregon lawmakers also recently formed a Semiconductor Task Force, which makes policy recommendations on how Oregon can stay on the cutting edge of new technologies and job opportunities.

One of the main recommendations of the task force was to create more pipelines for students to enter the industry at ground level. The new program addresses this need by utilizing connections between the school district, municipal government and local businesses.

“Cities have a role to play in bridging that link between industry and the school district,” said Kristi Wilson, Hillsboro workforce development manager. “That’s why companies were willing to take the risk…(and) I think there will be a lot of other companies looking at how it works.”

This latest manufacturing program is similar to others formed in partnership between businesses, the Hillsboro School District and government officials in recent years.

The school district also established the Oregon Aerospace Careers for Everyone program, which similarly trains high school students in the skills required to enter the flight industry, whether as pilots, engineers or more on the business side. management of an airline.

Deputy Superintendent Travis Reiman says the goal of the training programs is to lay the foundation for future “pipeline programs” tailored to other industries. The four main areas that the Hillsboro School District focuses on are aerospace, semiconductors, healthcare, and education.

“It’s about looking at what we know about labor demand and how we’re positioned to give them the education students need to get there,” Reiman said.

Many companies wouldn’t normally take chances with young, inexperienced workers, especially if they’re dealing with expensive and sensitive devices like those that go into computers.

But the risk is mitigated if schools and local government agencies help find and train students who are already keen to enter a certain industry.

Instead of going to a four-year college, students get a two-year hands-on experience that prepares them for a job right after graduating from high school.

Students in the program earn certification from the Bureau of Labor and Industries that allows them to work as a manufacturing technician. Because many of them are underage, this ensures that they are legally allowed to take jobs in the industry.

To date, the manufacturing apprenticeship has six students. All are from Century High School.

District officials say their goal is to expand learning to multiple schools and get a wide range of students to join. Women have traditionally been underrepresented in the high-tech industry, as have black and Latino workers — something educators, advocates and even many business leaders say they want to change.

As with the O-ACE program, companies know they can meet the demand for workers if they attract more women and people of color to the industry. It takes time, Reiman said, and it takes people who already know a bit about what it’s like to go through the Hillsboro program.

“All of our industry partners have diversity, equity and inclusion goals,” Reiman said. “And for them to achieve their goals…we need ways to build supports into the system so that students can see themselves in their chosen profession and to ensure that students have the support they need to successfully enter this profession.”

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