Editorial hails the state’s alternative pathways to post-secondary credentials.

The Seattle Times editorial board writes, “Spread the word on state’s programs for alternate career and apprenticeship pathways.” We’re happy to comply. After all, we devoted much of yesterday’s newsletter and a recent blog post to the importance of training and education in today’s economy.

The editorial says it well:

About 70% of job openings in Washington state over the next five years will require some form of postsecondary education. Yet today, only 40% of Washington students complete a credential after high school. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in math to figure out that’s a problem.

In 2019, the Legislature wisely approved the Workforce Education Investment Act to address the issue. It not only funded sliding-scale college scholarships but also established the Career Connect Washington system to help students with alternate career pathways.

Although there is still a long way to go, in less than two years, the public-private initiative — a coalition of industry, labor and education leaders — has built a strong foundation. More than 90 career and apprenticeship programs have been approved and almost 13,000 students enrolled, according to a new report. It is a milestone worth celebrating.

These programs expand choice.

Participation in a career program does not preclude someone from pursuing a traditional college degree. Ideally, it gives students the choice to continue academically, seek additional training or start their career, officials said.

“It makes sense for parents and it makes sense for young people. They love the idea of doing something in the real world,” said Maud Daudon, head of Career Connect Washington. “It also makes sense for employers because they’re desperate for talent.”

The programs are off to a great start, but more needs to be done.

To truly make a dent in the need for qualified workers, that 13,000 enrollment figure needs to be closer to 50,000, officials said, but there is the will and the momentum to get there over the next eight years. Right now, the problem is letting people know.

Tell a friend.