Po Chan arrived in Waterloo two years ago without any real job training. A refugee from Burma, he had worked as a spray painter in Malaysia and had some limited math education, but lacked the English skills and technical training for a skilled job. He was working the production line at Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., and taking English classes at the Hawkeye Community College Metro Center when he enrolled in the new contextual CNC Machining class.
“I had never heard of CNC before,” he said. “I wanted to change my life, but I don’t want to move to another city. Waterloo is where my family is. I want to stay here.”
The CNC Machining class gave Po Chan the opportunity to gain job training while improving his language skills at the same time. He went from never having worked with machines to being able to read blueprints and run programs.
“This class gave me knowledge,” he said. “I learned English and mathematics, and how to use the machines. I enjoyed all of it.”
Po Chan used the skills he learned at Hawkeye to get a new job at Tyson. As a Maintenance Technician–Level 1, he puts his job training to use every day. He also received a pay raise and has a clear path for future advancement.
“My studies supported me in getting the new job,” he said. “I will use the same computer programs at work that I did in class.”
In addition to the new job, Po Chan plans to continue his English Language Learning classes and hopes to get more job training in industrial maintenance.
“My family is proud,” he said.