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Training Workers for Aviation

Portland Community College is leading the way

Portland Community College instructor Tom Laxson (center) shows student Kayler Randall (right) one of the jet engines in the college’s Aviation Maintenance Technology Program. Assisting is Archie Vega of Horizon Air Industries.

According to a report by Boeing, in the next two decades the aviation industry will face a dire shortage of skilled workers to maintain the North American fleet as demand for aviation technicians will be estimated to be at roughly 192,000 and pilots at approximately 208,000. Nationwide, that’s a huge hole to fill.

In Oregon, Portland Community College is leading the way on several aviation training fronts. In 2020, the college created the dual-credit Oregon Aerospace Careers for Everyone (O-ACE) Program for high school students interested in careers as aviation maintenance technicians, avionics technicians or professional pilots.

This academic year, PCC’s Aviation Maintenance Technology Program (AMT) entered into a partnership with Horizon Air Industries called the Horizon Technician Development Program.

The new effort provides students with industry-relevant training and employment opportunities. And, in turn, provides Horizon with a source of highly qualified applicants for their aircraft mechanic positions.

“The partnership between PCC and Horizon Air is extremely significant,” said Tom Laxson, AMT faculty chair. “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.”

The Horizon program focuses on student recruitment and scholarship opportunities (up to $12,200 per student) to offset the costs of earning the two-year AMT degree. In addition, the partnership allows the college’s faculty to access Horizon’s technical training. Horizon also routinely donates used equipment and tooling to the PCC program.

Industry officials say the instruction offered by schools like PCC are the primary means by which the aviation industry gains new workers.

“It’s exceptionally vital that we continue to matriculate new technicians, and through the partnership with Horizon, we can continue to lead nationally, as has been the case for some time,” Laxson said


For more information about PCC’s aviation training programs, call 971-722-7256, or visit


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