Seattle Times reports on tech training, on-the-job training and the UW’s successful transfer program

We want to call your attention to three recent articles by Seattle Times education reporter Katherine Long addressing central to our Achieve priority:

Education expands opportunity. By 2020, 70 percent of Washington jobs will require postsecondary education or training. Preparing our students for these opportunities requires high-quality education at every level.

Her story contrasting two Seattle tech-training programs examines the elements of successful postsecondary education.  

Last year, Seattle Central College began offering free, federally funded coding classes with a lofty goal — to teach tech skills to the unemployed, giving them a foot in the door at booming firms across the region…

But after 13 months, only four of Seattle Central’s 42 students had been placed in tech apprenticeships. LaunchCode, the nonprofit behind the classes, pulled the plug. The program in Seattle, which had spent $1 million of its $3.8 million grant money, was scrapped.

At the same time, though, another program with a similar mission was succeeding.

Meanwhile, another tech-training program, Apprenti, which began around the same time and was also awarded a multimillion dollar federal grant, has been so successful that it has expanded to other states.

Long asks, why’d one work and the other fail. The head of the unsuccessful program has an answer.

“With respect to way we trained people, it simply isn’t good enough for junior-level developer jobs in Seattle,” said Jeffrey Mazur, LaunchCode’s executive director. “That’s strictly a function of the job market in Seattle.”

The successful program had impressive and important industry ties.

The Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) Workforce Institute, which runs the training program called Apprenti, has done much better. It has placed 220 people in registered apprenticeships in 18 months.

The WTIA is a trade association of 800 large and small Washington tech firms, including the region’s heavy hitters, such as Microsoft, Amazon, T-Mobile and Expedia. It was able to draw on its network to craft the apprenticeships, and it knew what local employers wanted, said Jennifer Carlson, WTIA Workforce Institute’s executive director.

There’s more. We recommend the report to you. Also, her report on on-the-job training touches on another important workplace issue.

A private job-training program for young adults without college degrees makes a significant difference in the lives of those who participate, a new federal study shows.

Participants in the nonprofit program called Year Up — which has a Seattle office — saw a 53 percent increase in the amount of money they earned after they finished the program, and two years later, those who participated continued to do significantly better than those who were in a control group…

Year Up is the largest participant in the study, and its earnings impacts were the largest reported to date for workforce programs tested.

Year Up is for 18- to 24-year-olds, most of whom are from low-income families, who have finished high school or a GED but haven’t yet settled into a career path. The 12-month program gives them a mix of academic coursework and professional skill-building, followed by on-the-job training.

Fred Krug, executive director of Puget Sound’s Year Up program, said 85 to 90 percent of those who finish the program are either employed or enrolled in college four months after the program ends. Year Up has a partnership with Bellevue College, and many students begin studying there or at other area colleges, where they complete a certificate or get started on a two-year or four-year degree.

Good news. Also good news can be found her story on the way the University of Washington helps transfer students successfully transition through a four-year degree.

Every year, 80 percent of community college students say they intend to transfer to a four-year college and earn a bachelor’s degree. But studies show that six years after they entered community college, only 14 percent of those students have gotten a four-year degree.

That’s a missed opportunity, according to a new report by the American Talent Initiative, a partnership of some of the nation’s top public and private universities, including the University of Washington.

Long cites a report examining seven case studies, two of which feature programs at the UW.

At the UW, about 25 percent of undergrads enter as transfers, and they’re more likely than traditional students to come from historically underrepresented groups. The report tells how the university offers a wide variety of services specifically for transfers, such as an online academic transfer planning tool, student webinars, weekly in-person admissions and advising sessions, separate orientation, and academic advisers assigned to each incoming transfer student.

We’ve written often about the importance of postsecondary education and training. It’s inspiring to read of good work being done in our state to advance this important objective.