Inslee’s education initiative progresses with added programs, expanded local networks across state
Gov. Jay Inslee, business and labor leaders gathered in Olympia this week to hear the progress behind the governor’s Career Connect Washington education initiative, months after experts implemented key components from the recent Workforce Education Investment Act.
The act, which expands the Career Connect Washington initiative, was signed into law by the governor earlier this year.
“We have more enthusiasm today than the day we started this,” Inslee said. “We haven’t lost our momentum. We’ve opened a lot of doors because we know there are major skill gaps in today’s economy and this program will help fill those gaps. That’s why expanding this program will serve our state well.”
There are four important updates to the program. Stakeholders have completed or will soon complete the following:
- Strengthened the program by establishing more local networks with businesses, schools and industries.
- Created curriculum for 10 new programs that range in topics such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing and health care. 18 grants support the new programs.
- Better connect the career-connected learning database so that participants can use it as a one-stop-shop.
- Create two new programs and curriculum around data analytics and clean energy.
Maud Daudon, executive leader of Career Connect Washington, said these updates will create even more educational pathways for participants and students.
“This is a real programs for real kids,” Daudon said. “This impacts every sector of our economy everywhere in our state.”
High school students in Vancouver recently explored career-connected learning at local employer-based programs. They talked to Career Connect Washington about how the experience helped their personal education plans evolve. One student said an internship not only taught the them how to be professional in the workplace, but it also gave them a way to test out what they wanted to do before making any big financial commitments for post-high school education.
Another student said they made better choices about their career path after they took a 3D modeling internship and realized they liked working more with data and information technology than they did with engineering. A third student used their internship to get STEM work experience before they went to college. Through the internship, they realized they wanted a job that works with human interaction and communication — not just computers — on a daily basis.
Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, communications representative at Career Connect Washington, said the students gained positive things from the experience that will help them going forward.
“If you can’t see what a job or industry is like, you could spend years of your life going down the wrong path,” Clunies-Ross said. “The students got to ‘road test’ their ideas about what they were interested in, and see what it’s like to do that job on the day-to-day. All the students learned about multiple different jobs, they learned about a new industry and they learned about themselves. That’s invaluable experience to get in high school.”
The initiative’s goal is to connect 100,000 young people with employer internships, registered apprenticeships and other learning. Educators and employers already work together to build an apprenticeship and broad career-connected learning system that emphasizes real-world experience. This helps students land jobs in STEM and other high-paying fields, and many of these new jobs don’t require a traditional four-year degree. Students can choose whether they continue with a qualified internship or if they use their new skills for a different opportunity. Either way, it means more skilled workers enter the workforce after graduation.
Inslee issued a proclamation last week honoring National Apprenticeship Week. Washington has one of the most robust apprenticeship systems in the nation. The program currently serves 20,000 Washingtonians and leaders hope to double that goal in the next decade.