Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

What is the Margaret Carter Skill Center?

Cascade Campus Sign
  • An exciting place for students/job seekers to pursue the education and training necessary for their entry and re-entry into the workforce.
  • A program offering customized training so our students can acquire the skills they need to accomplish their educational and employment goals.
  • A safe and nurturing learning environment so our students can overcome challenges that often present barriers to their personal and professional development.

What is the history of the Skill Center?

Skill Center was founded 1989. In October 2007, PCC paid tribute to former Senator Margaret Carter by naming the Skill Center in her honor. Its mission is always to provide workforce readiness to unemployed, under-employed and under-skilled individuals.

Who are the students?

  • Over 70% come from N/NE Portland
  • 74% are ethnic minority (55% African American, 8% Hispanic, 11% other minority groups)
  • 51% are males
  • 90% are first generation college attendees
  • Median age is 38 and the average age is 37

What are some examples of the positive outcomes?

Recent survey of the skill center graduates:

  • 60% pursue or completed a degree or certificate
  • 76% are satisfied with the preparation they received at the Skill Center for their current employment
  • 75% are satisfied with the preparation they received at the Skill Center for studies at their new school
  • 54% state that their current job related to their Skills Center training
  • 66% state that what they learned at the Skill Center prepared them for a job
  • 90% agree that Skill Center instructors are good advisors

Some accomplishments of recent SC graduates:

  • Gained permanent employment with Portland Community College, GoodWill Industries, government agencies, OHSU, Intel, Solar World and other reputable establishments.
  • Earned Associates, Bachelors and Master degrees from Portland Community College, Portland State University, Concordia University, Linfield University, Warner Pacific University and other higher education institutions.
  • Successfully completed the apprenticeship and trade programs and obtained professional/ technical certificates at Portland Community College.
  • Selected as an intern for former U.S. Senator Gordon Smith.

What makes the Skill Center successful?

  • We continue to expand the number of active participating partners including private employers, social services organizations and government agencies
  • We actively recruit students (sometimes going door-to-door!)
  • We inform and promote services and programs through employers and service providers
  • Many students are referred by former students
  • We work closely with employers to develop the basic skills curriculum needed by job seekers
  • Instruction is practical and hands-on. The instructional day is the same length as a typical workday, allowing students to make an adjustment before they transition to workforce
  • Students develop competencies in computer applications, math, workplace communications and technical knowledge
  • We continuously coach, advise and assist students to seek quality and permanent employment.

What is the cost?

  • Tuition is waived - students are responsible for college service and other activity fees (see Enrollment & Fees)
  • Payment options may be available through the college business office
  • Students are fully registered as college students and they have the access to college resources
  • The classes will be on students' transcript as pre-college classes

What do students learn?

They study communication, math, principles of technology, computer applications, employment exploration and industrial orientation. These are some examples of what they learn:

  • Communication skills, workplace computational and analytic skills
  • Trades technology and industry specific procedures in an applied/lab environment
  • Computer skills to create applicable business documents and correspondence
  • Goal setting, workplace habits, employment exploration and critical job search skills

What are the requirements?

  • Be age 18 or older (16 and 17 year old students may be approved in some cases - contact the Skill Center for more info)
  • Attend and Complete an orientation
  • Meet scoring requirements on the assessment tests

How do I get started?

The best time to do it is now! Orientations are held weekly - for dates and times, see the Skill Center Enrollment page.