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The venture with Horizon Air will support the local aerospace workforce pipeline.

COURTESY PHOTO: PORTLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE - PCC's Tom Laxson (middle) shows student Kayler Randall (right) one of PCC's jet engines as Horizon's Archie Vega assists.Portland Community College and its Aviation Maintenance Technology Program formed a new partnership with Horizon Air Industries in a new effort to form the Horizon Technician Development Program.

The new workforce development program is intended to offer interested students industry-relevant training along with employment opportunities and provide qualified applicants for aircraft mechanic positions.

Tom Laxson is the program faculty chair at PCC.

"The partnership between PCC and Horizon Air is extremely significant," Laxson said. "Horizon's influence and expertise elevates our entire program. The fact of the matter is that the technology and equipment of commercial aviation is financially exclusive. The importance of this relationship cannot be overstated. … It's exceptionally vital that we continue to matriculate new technicians."

Over the next 20 years, the aviation industry is expecting to face a shortage of workers, according to a Boeing report, which said the North American fleet could need 192,000 more aviation techs and 208,000 more pilots nationwide.

"Our relationship with PCC is critical to our Horizon and Alaska (Airlines) maintenance operations as it is a valuable pipeline," said Archie Vega, Horizon Air/M&E Division director of maintenance and planning. "We have worked very closely with PCC in the past, and I have personally been involved with our relationship building over the past five years to assure PCC is supported by industry.

"With our commitments and our development programs with PCC, it assures us a positive pipeline of local talented mechanics going into the future to ensure both Horizon and Alaska can meet our maintenance program's FAA requirements," he said.

This academic year, PCC has its first cohort of six students enter the two-year program, and Horizon is providing scholarship opportunities of up to $12,200 per student, as well as donating used equipment and tools to the program.

Al Coleman, 31, is one of the six students in this year's first cohort.

"Horizon Air has been my top choice for a potential future employer since I began the AMT program at PCC," Coleman said. "I am looking for a place where I can grow and thrive, and everything I have learned about Horizon suggests that is exactly what I will do.

"It was also important to me that my job would have a serious component, or give me a sense of accomplishment and respectability," he said. "Aviation maintenance fits the bill and is at the forefront of providing safety where it can matter most."

This comes after PCC created the dual-credit Oregon Aerospace Careers for Everyone Program in 2020 in partnership with the Hillsboro School District and others.

Learn more about the program here.


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