Inslee aims to connect kids directly to careers with new apprenticeship and education initiative

Inslee: ‘We have to stop telling our kids that a four-year degree is the only path to success’


Gov. Jay Inslee today announced the launch of a new Career Connect Washington initiative aimed at helping significantly more students pursue good-paying jobs after high school through career-ready education such as registered apprenticeships and technical training programs.

Gov. Inslee speaking to the audience in Redmond during the Career Connect Washington launch event Wednesday. (Official Governor’s Office Photo)

The goal? Connect 100,000 students during the next five years with career-connected learning opportunities that prepare them for high-demand, high-wage jobs. This will build on the governor’s existing Vision 2021 goal of 70 percent of students achieving a postsecondary credential.

Originally planned as an event for a few hundred participants, the Governor’s Summit on Career Connected Learning attracted more than 1,200 participants from 27 sites around the state. The effort is generating more interest than anyone had anticipated, and Inslee is hoping that enthusiasm translates into tremendous job training opportunities for Washington’s students.

“We have to stop telling our kids that a four-year degree is the only path to success. Most of them will require education and training after high school, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a four-year college degree,” Inslee said.

“Through registered apprenticeships, technical training programs and other career-connected learning opportunities, we’ll gives students all kinds of ways to fulfill their dreams of helping build airplanes, cure diseases or design innovative new software.”

Inslee pointed to the exciting potential of programs such as the registered aerospace youth apprenticeship program he celebrated last month in Tacoma and the new tech apprenticeship program in Seattle. High school students receive paid on-the-job training they can use toward their diploma, journey-level card and a college certificate. Students complete the program ready for good-paying aerospace jobs while employers are able to help recruit and train motivated, skilled employees.

Brad Smith, Gov. Inslee and Perry England at the Career Connect Summit in Redmond, Wash., on May 31, 2017 (Photo courtesy: Microsoft)

Washington was one of six states selected last year to participate in the National Governors Association Policy Academy for Work Based Learning. The Policy Academy was co-led by Inslee’s office and the state’s Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board and included more than 70 participating organizations. Today’s summit was the final step in completing the NGA Policy Academy.

Policy Academy participants developed recommendation in several policy areas:

  • Business mentorship
  • Stronger career planning before high school
  • Expanded access to apprenticeships
  • Stronger connections between educators and industry
  • An educator toolbox to enhance career-connected learning, especially in rural and underserved communities
More than 1,200 participants joined Wednesday’s summit. Presenting organizations included the Office of the Governor, the state’s Workforce Board, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Washington STEM. WSU Extension connected the 26 regional sites that included rural locations such as Lyle, Republic, Raymond and Cathlamet. (Official Governor’s Office Photo)

The recommendations will help guide the work of the new Career Connect Washington Task Force announced by Inslee. The Task Force is a public-private partnership that will be co-chaired by Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, and Perry England, chair of the Workforce Board and a vice president at MacDonald Miller Facility Solutions.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced a $1 million investment in Career Connect Washington, and Inslee announced the state will use $1 million in federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds to help kick off the effort.

“As a business person and chair of the Workforce Board, I’m committed to strengthening the connection between Washington employers and our young people,” England said. “We need business and industry at the table to make this work. We need business to be engaged and truly excited about helping create these opportunities.”

“The workplace is changing, and jobs will require new skills,” Smith added. “Of the 740,000 job openings expected in Washington state in the next five years, the majority will require a postsecondary degree, certificate or credential. Apprenticeships, mentorships and career services can play an important role in helping today’s young people prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith joins Gov. Jay Inslee and Workforce Board Chairman Perry England on stage Wednesday at the Career Connect Summit in Redmond. (Official Governor’s Office Photo)

“At JP Morgan Chase, we believe that a connection between education and the labor market is imperative to prepare a competitive 21st century workforce. Business partners must reimagine how we work with educational leaders so that our talent requirements articulate with the student experience and graduate profile,” said Phyllis Campbell, Chairman, Pacific Northwest, JPMorgan Chase & Co. “We are excited about expanding career-focused educational programs that give Washington’s young people opportunities to access career pathways in the state’s expanding sectors. These programs can truly transform lives by showing students there are many pathways to success that lead to well-paying jobs and long-term careers.”

The 15-member task force will deliver recommendations to the governor in December on investment priorities, policies and incentives to expand career connected learning. They will convene starting next month.

Inslee also announced that the task force will work with public and private sector partners to lead a delegation to Switzerland in the fall to learn more about their world-leading youth apprenticeship programs.

The governor’s budget proposal to the Legislature included a $6 million public/$6 million private investment in career connected learning. The funding would provide an additional 50,000 students access to career-connected opportunities.

“It is exciting to lead the country in this effort,” Inslee said. “This is a great place to launch a revolution in career connected learning.”

Gov. Inslee with students from the Nespelem Valley Electric Co-Op at the Career Connect Summit in Redmond, Wash., May 31 2017. (Official Governor’s Office Photo)

The summit was sponsored by Title Sponsors JPMorgan Chase and Microsoft; Platinum Sponsor Kaiser Permanente; Benefactor Sponsor PEMCO; and Supporting Sponsors the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and We Work for Health. The Policy Academy is underwritten by the National Governors Association and Siemens Foundation.