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Sisto Piña, Dean of College and Career Success at the Highline School District’s Puget Sound Skills Center (PSSC) said, “I tell our students, the Port economy is like a city that offers a multitude of career opportunities. I encourage them to think about all the different types of jobs a person can get on a cruise ship or at an airport, and how these venues need to hire and employ people with a variety of different skill sets.” When PSSC students graduate from high school many have already earned college credits as they have over 350 credits available to them through local colleges. For example, students enrolled in the Aeronautical Science Pathway program, which is designed for juniors and seniors who want to become professional pilots or work in aviation management fields can apply sixty college credits earned in high school to the Applied Science degree in Aeronautical Science at Green River College.


Sisto and Cris Krisologo, Manager of the Airport Jobs office located at Seattle Tacoma International Airport (SEA) have a lot in common. Both are dream weavers and matchmakers, dedicated to helping students achieve their career goals. Both see firsthand that students thrive when given opportunities to build technical skills, learn about the labor market and connect with employers.


Both know too that building career crosswalk opportunities for students enrolled in PSCC Culinary Arts, Fire & Emergency Services, Automotive Technology and Maritime Science Technology programs to aviation related job also makes sense. When thinking about the employment options for PSSC students Sisto said, “I convey that there are many windows. I caution students to not get tunnel vision. I say, for example, that even if you trained at PSSC to be an automotive technician you might be seen as a desirable candidate by Boeing because you have already demonstrated your mechanical aptitude.”


Both organizations believe their partnership increases the funnel of qualified applicants to the port economy. Port Jobs routinely sends the Airport Jobs Employment Hotlist to PSSC so that students become familiar with the types of jobs opened in the labor market. Airport Jobs staff also meet with PSSC students at community based job fairs, and share information that challenges their preconceptions of where they might work. At some of these events they introduce students to employers and some students get hired on the spot. In addition, Airport Jobs invites PSSC students to special events. For example, students enrolled in the PSSC Fashion and Marketing attended Port Jobs retail workshops.


Airport Jobs staff work with PSSC graduates to craft competitive job applications, and career plans. They also invite students who enter employment at the airport to enroll in Airport University classes, and to apply for Port Jobs Alaska Airlines/Airport University scholarships. In the past five years, nineteen scholarships have been awarded to SEA incumbent workers and used for aviation programs at Green River College.


The PSSC partnership with Port Jobs benefits students and the port economy, and extends the reach, duration and influence of both organizations. Sisto said that, “Partnerships like this expand students’ notion of the big picture – of where they fit in, and where they contribute to the workforce.”