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Pima County One-Stop connecting youth to aviation technology field

Jul 20, 2017 | Read More News
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The sky’s the limit for students in a Pima County-led program training them for STEM-related fields. Just ask Sabino High School graduate Cody Borgwald.

“I’m a huge mechanical kind of guy, but I’ve seen the automotive industry really plummet,” said Borgwald, looking around the hangar of Bombardier, where he has a summer internship working on aircraft. “But this field is really taking off.”
Aviation student
Borgwald is one of nine Joint Technical Education District students now in the aviation program at Pima Community College and interning at the world’s largest manufacturer of trains and planes, situated not far from the runways of Tucson International Airport. While some students are working fast-food jobs or hanging out with friends this summer, Borgwald and his fellow interns are removing panels from airplanes and assisting licensed mechanics with the replacement of throttle cables.

The county program got its start when employers in the growing fields of biotechnology, aviation, health information technology and industrial technology said they needed more well-trained employees. That’s when Pima County’s One-Stop Career Center reached out to area partners to develop comprehensive curriculum and training programs to fill that science, technology, engineering and math pipeline. 

The One-Stop, part of the county’s Community Services, Employment and Training Department, administers the programs for more than 745 high school students across Southern Arizona. Many of the students from that first group are on their way as first-year students at Pima Community College as part of a $5.4 million Youth Career Connect (YCC) program supported by the U.S. Department of Labor through June 2018. 

Other partners are the Pima County JTED, the Sunnyside and Tucson Unified School Districts, Pima Community College, and non-profit partner, Tucson Youth Development. Pima County is the grant awardee on behalf of Innovation Frontier Arizona, which also includes Santa Cruz, Cochise and Yuma counties. 

Nils Urman, program coordinator for the YCC grant, said the internships offer another example of the County One-Stop system connecting industry partners with prospective employees to meet their workforce needs.

“We recognize that companies like Bombardier represent a real growth industry, so we’re thrilled to be able to partner with them to move young people into good-paying jobs with a bright future,” Urman said.

Paul Rivera, Human Resource Business Partner with Bombardier, said the partnership with the county has provided a strong pipeline of talent to help them fill jobs vacancies from retiring Baby Boomers.

“We’ve probably hired 40 to 50 students in the last four years, which is very important,” Rivera said. “This industry is getting very competitive. Supply is not keeping up with demand.”

Manny Ochoa, a Rincon High School graduate, appreciates the hands-on nature of the work and said the internship has confirmed his career choice. 

“It’s very fast-paced and you’re learning something new every day,” Ochoa said. Ben Rendon, a Desert View High School graduate, agreed.

“I’ve always wanted to go into aviation,” he said. He chuckles knowing that a number of his high school classmates are working at burger joints while he’s entering a career promising pay upwards of $20 an hour.

“They tell me, ‘Dang! You are on track!’” he said. 

Another intern, Tucson Magnet High School graduate David Tamayo Valenzuela, knows he has made a career choice with a lot of potential for growth. 

“People will always be flying.”


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