Inslee awards $6 million to create apprenticeship and career connections for 29,000 youth in 11 communities

Grants support the governor’s Career Connect Washington initiative

Job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships are just a few of the career connections that will become available to 29,000 students thanks to $6.4 million in new Career Connect Washington grant funding.

The awardees expect to create 29,000 new career connected learning experiences in 11 communities from now through September 2019. These include STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning experiences, job shadows at local employers, career planning, and over 4,800 new internships, pre-apprenticeships, and registered apprenticeships.

“A four-year degree isn’t the only path to a fulfilling career,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “Business leaders have told us they are looking for talent in everything from information technology to health care. And that’s what this initiative is all about: connecting students to great employers and high-quality job training.”

The initiative expands registered apprenticeship programs and puts a new focus on youth registered apprenticeships. The awardees expect to move over 1,400 young people, plus more than 400 adults, into new apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships in fields such as advanced manufacturing, health care, agricultural irrigation systems, building trades, IT and maritime manufacturing.

“This is the most critical commitment to apprenticeships for young people and adults the state has made in almost a decade, and we hope to see more in the future,” said Lynn Strickland, Executive Director of the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC).

Local workforce development councils and STEM networks led local application teams, which brought businesses together with schools, apprenticeships, community and technical colleges, and local youth organizations to connect youth with local employers.

Gov. Jay Inslee speaks May 31 about the Career Connect Washington initiative during the Governor’s Summit on Career Connected Learning in Redmond. (Governor’s Office photo)

The grants support the Career Connect Washington initiative Inslee launched May 31 at the Governor’s Summit on Career Connected Learning, which attracted more than 1,200 participants from 27 sites around the state. The initiative’s goal is to connect 100,000 students during the next five years with employer internships, registered apprenticeships, and other career connected learning to prepare them for high-demand jobs.

“It’s all about jobs, and Career Connect Washington means thousands of young people getting good jobs, living rewarding lives, and not going through the difficulties of unemployment,” said Tim Probst, Director of Workforce Initiatives for the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Inslee’s Career Connect Washington Task Force includes representation from employers, labor, and the public sector. It is 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. Several task force members were part of Inslee’s recent apprenticeship study mission to Switzerland.

“Washington is committed to expanding career connected learning and youth registered apprenticeships. These opportunities change lives for young people and make our economy grow,” England said. “The Career Connect Washington proposals showed a commitment to these goals and a level of local partnership that is unprecedented in this state.”

Gov. Jay Inslee meets with Learning Lab participants from the Nespelem Valley Electric Co-Op during the Governor’s Summit on Career Connected Learning on May 31 in Redmond. (Governor’s Office photo)

The $6.4 million is federal money made available through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. It is the second investment in Career Connect Washington, following a $1 million investment by JP Morgan Chase in May.

Representatives from business, labor, apprenticeship programs, the Office of the Governor, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Employment Security Department, Washington STEM, the Department of Labor and Industries, the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and the state Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board developed the grant criteria and made recommendations on funding to the governor.

The Office of the Governor awarded the grants as follows:

$1.3 million to Career Connect Seattle-King County

Career Connect Seattle-King County focuses on providing relevant experiences across the continuum of career awareness, exploration, preparation and training for all youth, with an emphasis on underrepresented populations. The proposal partners with Highline and Seattle Public Schools, along with Open Doors sites, while engaging business and expanding apprenticeship pathways for youth and adults across the aerospace, culinary, allied health and construction sectors.

$957,255 to Career Connect Northwest (Island, San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties)

Career Connect Northwest will deliver sequenced career learning experiences and expanded apprenticeship opportunities to nearly 900 young adults, including mentorship opportunities, informational interviews, job shadows and structured work based activity. The project will expand existing career connected learning programs such as the Washington Apprenticeship Vocation Training Tour. The project will expand five existing apprenticeships while creating two new apprenticeship programs, resulting in 45 new apprenticeship opportunities annually.

$854,547 to Career Connect North Central (Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant and Okanogan counties)

Career Connect North Central addresses the challenges of a large rural region by creating career connect teams in the region’s three labor market subareas of health care, manufacturing and computer science. Using lessons learned from the Wenatchee Learns Connect initiative, which has garnered statewide acclaim, the Workforce Development Council, Apple STEM Network, business champions, local employers, partner agencies, school districts and post-secondary institutions will create high-quality career connected learning experiences for youth and new apprenticeship opportunities.

$852,910 to Career Connect Tacoma-Pierce County

Career Connect Tacoma-Pierce County will collaborate with WorkForce Central, Bates and Clover Park Technical Colleges, sheet metal and carpenters labor organizations, AJAC, Associated General Contractors Educational Foundation, the Construction Center of Excellence, ResCare Workforce Services, and the Tacoma STEAM Network (science, technology, engineering, art and math). The group will provide youth and young adults with a multitude of experiences that include career connected learning opportunities, sector training in growth occupations, and apprenticeships. The project focuses on creating new registered apprenticeship programs as well as expanding youth and young adult enrollment into existing apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.

$831,984 to Career Connect South Central (Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania and Yakima counties)

Career Connect South Central partners with STEM champions from local business and industry, education, government, apprenticeship-sponsoring organizations, and community organizations to provide equitable access to high-quality career connected learning experiences to rural and underserved youth. Through internships, expanded and newly developed apprenticeship programs, job shadows, career exploration events, networking opportunities and the development of interest-driven career plans, participating youth will seamlessly enter high-demand STEM jobs in Washington.

$740,000 to Career Connect Southwest (Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties)

This grant will activate the region’s rich expertise in career connected learning by continuing work done through YouthWorks to dramatically increase internships and work-based learning opportunities for youth. These strong partnerships will continue to build long-lasting registered apprenticeships in the high-growth and in-demand field of health care through partnerships with Peace Health, Rebound Orthopedics, Kaiser Permanente and Great Rivers Behavioral Health. Career Connect Southwest will expand the AJAC registered apprenticeship program in rural Cowlitz County through partnerships with Lower Columbia College and Millennium Bulk Terminals.

$263,303 to Career Connect Eastern Washington (Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens and Walla Walla counties)

Career Connect Eastern Washington will provide students in Ferry, Pend Oreille and Stevens counties with 90-hour internships in natural resources, including in forestry and water and soil conservation. Students matched with a mentor will develop and conduct FieldSTEM investigations, present their career plan and project to various community groups, and then lead additional youth FieldSTEM investigations. This regional will work with employers to convert forest products internships into registered apprenticeships — youth or adult — and will work with additional partners to convert existing apprenticeships into youth registered apprenticeships.

$150,000 each to Career Connect Olympic Peninsula (Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties), Career Connect Pacific Mountain (Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties), Career Connect Snohomish County, and Career Connect Spokane County

These regional teams will continue to refine their local design with a strong focus on identifying employers willing to expand or launch registered apprenticeships for youth and adults, internships and pre-application slots.

Follow the Career Connect Washington initiative on Twitter with the #CareerConnectWA hashtag.