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Funding will help bring apprenticeship programs to forthcoming training center in Columbia County

Apprenticeship programs have been hailed as the linchpin of the burgeoning Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center, and now new grant funding will help launch the first round of apprenticeship programs in Columbia County.

PHOTO COURTESY OF PORTLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE - Metalworking apprenticeship programs like welding will get a boost at Portland Community College thanks to more than $300,000 in grant funding, primarily from the state. Portland Community College, partnering with OMIC, landed more than $300,000 in new grant funding. The largest financial windfall came from a nearly $250,000 grant from the Oregon Employment Department for apprenticeships in manufacturing. The grant will help kickstart an advanced manufacturing registered apprenticeship program at a yet to be built PCC training center in Columbia County.

"OMIC Training is about strengthening education and workforce training for the manufacturing sector, from K-12 to a doctorate," Chris Holden, director of the OMIC training center, stated in a news release. "The Oregon AIM grant will support our current focus of developing industry driven apprenticeship programs aligned with nationally recognized credentials and certifications to drive what training looks like, not only at the OMIC Training Center, but what feeder programs look like in pre apprenticeship and high school CTE programs."

PCC estimates the grant funding will expand the number of apprentices in the college's Pacific Northwest Industrial Maintenance and Millwright program by 120 people over the course of three years. The funding will also help create four new registered apprenticeship standards for mechatronics technicians, industrial fabricators, computer numeric control operators and machinists, and set a new standard in industrial fabrication for a Madden Industrial Craftsmen apprenticeship program, according to PCC.

Apprentices will also be able to take advantage of online training courses.

"One of the exciting desired outcomes of the Oregon AIM grant is scaling or replicating this apprenticeship model across the state," Holdner added.

"A portion of this grant will support several workshops over the next two to three years to help CTE & STEM instructors in the region to learn how to align with OMIC training programs and goals," Holden added.

In addition to grant money that will be utilized by PCC, the Northwest Regional Education Service District's STEM program will also receive a $74,510 grant from the Oracle STEM Education Grants Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation.

The funding will "help OMIC partners close gaps and expand career-connected learning throughout Clatsop, Columbia, and Tillamook counties," PCC noted in the release.

NRESD plans to expand its internship models, take part in college and career fairs, and extend professional development to high school teachers and counselors, according to PCC.

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