Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Workforce development professionals at Willow Creek and throughout the region help those in need find work.

COURTESY PHOTO: PORTLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE - Eduardo Garnica, a workforce development professional at PCC Willow Creek, helps people facing barriers to employment through the Aligned Partner Network program.As local economies begin to recover from the impacts of the pandemic but workers still face challenges to finding jobs, Portland Community College workforce development employees say one program is helping.

Eduardo Garnica and Ernesta Ingeleviciute have been assisting adults who face barriers to employment through PCC's workforce development division for nearly 20 years.

Garnica works at PCC's Willow Creek campus in Washington County. Ingeleviciute works at the Portland Metropolitan Workforce Training Center in Northeast Portland.

They help people experiencing barriers to employment such as homelessness, addiction or re-entering society after incarceration through what is called the Aligned Partner Network.

The program connects workforce development professionals with job-seekers to help them receive employment and education opportunities from local partners such as PCC.

People in the program might receive career mapping and coaching, long-term employment guidance and connections to skill development and job-search activities.

People also receive culturally specific assistance, meaning Aligned Partner Network workers adapt their support to fit the background or experiences of the individual.

COURTESY PHOTO: PORTLAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE - Ernesta Ingeleviciute, a workforce development professional at the Portland Metro Workforce Training Center in Portland, helps people facing barriers to employment through the Aligned Partner Network program.The program is an initiative of WorkSource Oregon, a network of public and private agencies that collaborate to connect people with job openings. It's funded by Worksystems, a nonprofit organization working in Multnomah and Washington counties that is supported by the U.S. Department of Labor.

"With 30 different community organizations and relationships with more than 100 staff members, Garnica and Ingeleviciute are able to support a wide range of needs," PCC officials said in a recent statement highlighting their work.

Garnica, who is also a PCC career advisor, said he tries to help stabilize people's lives so they can better navigate the employment system.

"Without the stabilization of their lives, like help accessing food, or with housing, for instance, finding living-wage work can be a huge challenge," Garnica said in a statement explaining what he and Ingeleviciute do. "Working together with the APN coaches, we try to stabilize lives so that students can receive training or upgrade skills to get to eventual employment.

"It takes an experienced workforce professional to be able to guide and help a person from the beginning of an assessment to the end of training or to obtain employment."

It's key for those seeking help to be able to access wraparound, holistic services that cover all areas of their lives, Ingeleviciute added.

"An outcome of our partnership is the creation of these economic mobility opportunities for communities that have been historically marginalized," she said. "They haven't had access to many educational or employment opportunities."

The program helps tailor the approach that meets the needs of each individual in the program, officials say.

Using career mapping, students have a frequently updated career plan that builds on their strengths and articulates the individual's career and training goals. It also outlines the resources needed to reach those goals.

The jobs participants can secure varies widely, from a truck driver to a dental assistant to a nurse, with salaries that can reach up to $30 per hour.

"It is fulfilling work to help those that have challenges and barriers, giving them opportunity to find a good-paying job, eventually strengthening our economy and our community," Garnica said. "They are my neighbors, and we all benefit from lifting each other up."

People interested in accessing these services can call 971-722-2000 or 971-722-2713.

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