Washington employers and the Washington economy continue to experience an urgent need for workers with postsecondary training and education. We’ve written about it often, discussing the importance of career-connected education and programs designed to help students make the transition from high school to a variety of postsecondary learning programs,
Efforts to ease the transition continue and are highlighted in a couple of recent news stories. The Seattle Times reports on high-school apprenticeship programs.
This fall, about 120 Washington high-school juniors and seniors will earn a paycheck, work experience, and high school and college credit — all at the same time.
They’re becoming apprentices through Career Connect Washington, a state program that is expanding the number of youth apprentices with $25 million in money from the Legislature over the next two years. The aim of the program is to get more young people started on their careers by combining school and work experience.
The idea is to get more students to work at local companies and learn career skills during high school.
It’s a great idea, with significant upside potential, including preparing the workforce required by some of our state’s leading industries.
The largest program is the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC), a statewide, nonprofit aerospace and advanced manufacturing apprenticeship program that is working to train young people to fill thousands of openings in the aerospace industry in the next five years as older workers retire. The program, which had 17 youth apprentices two years ago, will take on 94 high school apprentices this year, said Aaron Ferrell, marketing communications manager for AJAC.
The AJAC program could grow to as many as 125 additional apprentices by next year, said Chris Pierson, the committee’s community partnerships manager.
The Bellingham Herald reports on a Whatcom County company that’s developed its own training program.
Last fall Barron Heating & Air Conditioning started the Barron Technician School. The school trains employees in a variety of fields, including for heating and cooling, electrical and plumbing jobs. While they are learning and do entry-level work, the students are paid about $16 an hour. Once trained, wages can be in the $45-an-hour range.
Whatcom County industries that offer living-wage jobs in the skilled trades are finding it hard to hire workers, but several public and private-sector programs are hoping to change that.
Whatcom County’s unemployment rate has remained low for the past several years. That’s left high-paying construction, nursing and transportation industries struggling to find new employees, according to a recent Employment Security Department report measuring employer demand by looking at online help-wanted postings.
Plenty of jobs that aren’t commonly posted online, such as plumbers, welders and heating/air conditioning technicians, are also going unfilled.