Business partnerships with community colleges funnel workers to better jobs

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When Roma Ouk moved from Southern California to Scottsdale, Arizona, to get a fresh start, he decided to go back to school. The first thing he had to do was scrape together $270 and fill out an eight-question assessment online.

When he passed with a perfect score, he got into a three-credit boot camp at Mesa Community College run in partnership with Boeing, the aerospace giant.

The nine-day, 36-hour course,taught by Boeing employees, teaches students how to assemble, modify, repair and test the cables and other equipment that create the “central nervous system” of Boeing’s airplanes, helicopters and drones.

Ouk, 33, emerged with an industry-recognized credential known as acable and wire harness assembly certification and an earning potential about 15 percent above what he was making as nurse’s assistant in his hometown of Long Beach, California.

Roma Ouk, 33, enrolled in the wire harness assembly boot camp at Mesa Community College in Arizona, a partnership with Boeing, and later was hired by General Dynamics, an aerospace and defense company, as a senior manufacturing and production operator. Credit: Brandon Sullivan for The Hechinger Report

Mesa Community College’s partnership with Boeing is one of several models that could be replicatedif a bipartisan bill to help finance community college workforce training for short-term credentials makes it through Congress.