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Advance Tigard provides matching grants to pay for worker training for city residents and businesses

PMG FILE PHOTO - A new Tigard program will give employees, who are also residents, a chance to advance their careers through training programs that will promote advancement.Tigard recently began a workforce development program designed to help residents who work for Tigard-based businesses advance their careers.

Advance Tigard will provide a matching grant to pay for career education/training expenses when a Tigard employer and city resident work together in an effort to develop a training and advancement plans, according to city officials.

"This economic development initiative has the double benefit of supporting the economic mobility of Tigard residents through education and improving the local workforce for local firms," Lloyd Purdy, Tigard economic development manager, said in a news release. "This is a first-of-its kind workforce development program for the city of Tigard. It supports inclusive and equitable access to resources as well as economic health, in alignment with the city of Tigard's strategic vision."

The program's goal is to create a career pathway that allows employees to seek a higher-paying job from their employers. Once an applicant is approved, a career coach is offered at no cost in an effort to support and guide individual employees.

The program is a collaborative effort between Tigard's economic development team and the workforce development team at Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization, also known as IRCO. The goal of the Portland-based IRCO is to "promote the integration of refugees, immigrants and the community at large into a self-sufficient, healthy and inclusive multi-ethnic society."

"The city turned to IRCO to administer this program based on the nonprofit's work with similar program(s) in the healthcare industry," the news release explains.

Leisl Wehmueller, workforce development department manager for the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, said that a prior worker program worked with only one industry — healthcare, through programs at both Oregon Health & Science University and Providence hospitals.

"In this program, we've seen participants that started as janitors, housekeepers and cafeteria workers become certified nursing assistants, medical coders, patient access specialists and more," she said.

In addition, Wehmueller said that in other workforce development programs she's managed, some participants have started as general production workers and became machinists or have started as general construction laborers and completed initial training to become electricians or heating, ventilation and air conditioning specialists. The same is true, said Wehmueller, with human resources assistants, who have earned specific professional credentials that have led to promotions in their respective departments.

The Advance Tigard program is funded through the city's general fund and economic development division budget.

As long as the funding is available, Tigard will accept applications for the program throughout the remainder of the fiscal year, according to city officials. It will then be re-assessed to determine whether the program's impact and success will continue again in the following year.


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