Seth Hamilton was nearing his 17th birthday and knew he wasn’t going to college. His after-high-school plans did not involve a four-year institution. Rising student loans and lack of finances steered Seth away from the popular choice of college and universities. As a junior at Lincoln High School, Seth enrolled in AJAC’s first Youth Apprenticeship program for high school students. One year later, Seth, along with Sean Colyer, another youth apprentice, are set to graduate and become Washington State’s first youth apprentice graduates this June.

During a visit from Governor Inslee in April, four of AJAC’s youth apprentices, along with their respective employers, toured the Governor around their shop floor highlighting the impact Youth Apprenticeship has made. “We started years ago trying to recruit younger people,” said Marianne Eveland, Production Manager at Quality Stamping & Machining. “This program allows the community to have extra help recruiting the right type of people.” A thorough vetting process designed by AJAC and local employers provided companies a platform to find the right candidates who have a focus on growing their skill set in manufacturing, whether it be machining, engineering, or fabrication.

Seth Hamilton, one of AJAC’s first Youth Apprentice graduates, prepares his HAAS CNC machine for a new part.

During the recruitment process at all ten Tacoma public high schools, Hamilton showed a strong interest in manufacturing. Lincoln High School, known locally for its outstanding shop class, laid the foundation for his success at American Structures & Design. Although he worked with manual machines in high school, Hamilton soon developed a new-found-love for Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines, “Working on CNC machines is pretty intimate. It can be tedious at times, but you’re not doing the same thing every day. It has a lot of different things that can happen, different things you have to look for. It keeps the job interesting, it keeps your brain working.”

What else are we going to build and how else are we going to build this company? Knowing today, it’s going to be with the younger guys.” – Mark Weissenbuehler, President of American Structures & Design

Sean Colyer, another Lincoln High School graduate, works alongside Seth at American Structures & Design in the machining department. Unlike Seth, Sean did not take shop class during his time in high school. However, engineering class contributed to his success in AJAC’s Youth Apprenticeship program. “What I’ve enjoyed doing at American Structures & Design is mainly work on machines and have the ability to do more than just machining,” Colyer said. “Engineer Design in high school helped me with knowing how AutoCAD works, which all of our drawings are based off of. It’s nice having the background of how the drawings are made while I look at the blueprint.”

Sean Colyer shakes Governor Inslee’s hand after learning about Sean’s new role at American Structures & Design.

Employing high school students on the shop floor can do more than help a company’s bottom line and hiring needs. It brings an added excitement. It enriches the morale of the shop floor from entry-level employees to the very top.

Mark Weissenbuehler, President of American Structures & Design, noticed the enthusiasm youth apprentices bring to manufacturing, “As we got involved with the youth apprentices, and the younger generation, it was fun to watch them evolve, learn, and get excited. Which in return helped me learn and get excited,” Weissenbuehler said. “It filled the need for where my company is at and where we are going. What else are we going to build and how else are we going to build this company? Knowing today, it’s going to be with the younger guys.”

Sam Yost and Tanner Gerken, two Youth Apprentices at Quality Stamping & Machining, pose for a photo with Governor Jay Inslee.

The trend across America for employing the next generation is changing. No longer does every student fit into the same mold as a four-year, college-bound student. Too many jobs and opportunities are being passed simply because the experience of working in manufacturing isn’t made available. Youth Apprenticeship has made local companies in Washington State find the diamond in the ruff. The diamond in this case is a determined, well-mannered, motivated, and technologically advanced high school student. Youth Apprenticeship doesn’t have to be for someone who will never go to a four-year college, but it can be for anyone who wants to connect real-world skills with their personal interests and aspirations.

Hamilton and Colyer are set to graduate on June 22nd as Production Technicians Youth Apprentices. The road to manufacturing has been paved, but their journey is far from over. After their requirements are met, Hamilton and Colyer will enroll in AJAC’s Machinist (Aircraft Oriented) apprenticeship program to continue their education and on-the-job training. But where would they be today if this opportunity didn’t exist?

“I hope as more and more people find out about this program, especially if they are younger in high school like I was, to seriously think about it. If you have a little experience, and you like it, you can start making money right away. Kick start your life rather than wait around for ten years, not knowing what to do,” Hamilton explained. “The fact I get paid to take college courses, is the exact opposite of what it normally is, it’s pretty cool, I like it a lot. But I honestly don’t know where I would be today.”

View photos from Governor Inslee’s visit on AJAC’s Flickr page.

Governor Inslee delivered his annual State of the State Address to the Washington State Senate and the State House of Representatives on January 9, 2018.

During his speech, Governor Inslee spent a few minutes highlighting his Career Connected Learning initiative, his trip to Switzerland and AJAC’s inaugural Youth Apprenticeship program, “You can go to Tacoma and see for yourself how this works. It was a joy last year to celebrate our state’s first 15 registered youth apprentices as they prepared to launch rewarding careers in aerospace. Let’s expand that opportunity, as well as apprenticeship programs for our veterans and other Washingtonians, in the coming years,” Inslee said.

Since Tacoma launched its first Youth Apprenticeship program, AJAC has implemented similar programs at West Valley High School (Yakima), Snohomish High School and secured partnerships with Puyallup High School, Shadle Park High School (Spokane School District) , Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center, Everett School District and the Mukilteo School District – all whom expect to launch their AJAC in 2018.

Learn more about AJAC’s Youth Apprenticeship Program online.

A new report performance audit for Washington State emphasizes the state’s need to better align high-growth, high-demand occupations with career and technical education (CTE) courses currently offered in high school. The industries with a large skills gap include aerospace, manufacturing, human protective services, computer science and many more.

AJAC’s Youth Apprenticeship program is leading the charge to offer our state’s first registered apprenticeship program in the ever-evolving industries of aerospace and advanced manufacturing.

“The importance of youth apprenticeships was recently recognized by Governor Inslee: We ought to be strengthening and expanding pre-apprenticeship programs in our schools… youth apprenticeship leverages one of our state’s most effective workforce development investments, which is registered apprenticeships. The apprenticeship model is the gold standard of work-based learning.

In 2016, Washington was awarded a $2.7 million federal grant to help grow and diversify apprenticeships. The grant, overseen by L&I, focuses partly on youth and will allow the agency to improve tracking of youth apprenticeship growth and success. The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) is taking a leading role in expanding youth apprenticeships into the K-12 educational system.

As of July 2017, AJAC reports the following progress in secondary schools:

  • Tacoma Public Schools has 14 youth apprentices receiving full-time on-the-job-training (OJT) at local advanced manufacturing companies. As these students entered their second related supplemental instruction (RSI) class in fall 2017, the program began recruiting for a new class of youth apprentices.
  • West Valley School District has three youth apprentices receiving full-time OJT at local advanced manufacturing companies. Recruitment will continue as a selection of youth apprentices enter from the Core Plus program. The goal is to enroll 10-15 youth apprentices by fall 2017.
  • In addition, AJAC is exploring ways to expand their apprenticeship efforts with school districts in Everett, Puyallup, Snohomish and Sumner as well as the Sno-Isle Skills Center.”

To learn more about this report, including coverage from the Seattle Times, please visit the links below:

Kent, Washington has a new home for advanced manufacturing. The Advanced Manufacturing Prep (AMP) Training Center was unveiled during a grand opening on December 6th in partnership with the City of Kent and Port of Seattle.

The 3,000 square foot training center offers a suite of advanced manufacturing programs geared towards local employers and job seekers alike. This is the first training center the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) has operated to meet the needs of an industry with a growing skills gap and shortage of middle skilled workers.

 

“We’re really here to provide the training for employers and for employers to talk to us and tell us what they need,” said Demetria “Lynn” Strickland, Executive Director of AJAC. The six programs AJAC will offer are based on industry demand and future needs of employers, as technology drives new, innovative products.These programs include orientation and screening for job seekers, pre-apprenticeship for advanced manufacturing, entry-level and advanced apprenticeships for incumbent workers, short-term training for local employers and master mentorship courses to skill-up our current mentors on the shop floor.

“We are very excited to be able to help AJAC open an office in Kent,” said Ben Wolters, Economic Development Director for the City of Kent. “Kent’s manufacturing and industrial economy is bustling, but employers are struggling to find qualified and skilled employees. Having AJAC open up a training facility convenient to both Kent’s diverse group of advanced manufacturers and its growing population of job seekers will help ensure Kent’s manufacturers continue to thrive and our residents continue to see new career opportunities.”

New career opportunities stems from the high-tech machinery and equipment readily available in today’s manufacturing industry. Equipment students will learn on includes a computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) HAAS VF2, manual knee mills, step shear and box and pan brake, three wire feed welding units, prusa four-color 3D printer, inspection tools, and a full-service classroom.

Support for the AMP Training Center was made possible by the Port of Seattle and the City of Kent. Through the Port’s Economic Development Partnership Program, the City of Kent allocated funds as an investment for job creation.

“The Port of Seattle is a proud sponsor of the Advanced Manufacturing Prep Training Center in Kent,” said Commissioner Stephanie Bowman. “Projects like this are exactly what we had in mind when we created our Economic Development Grants, so that we can partner with cities like Kent in order to bring jobs and economic growth to our region.”

Manufacturing jobs continue to grow, with over 31,000 added in November 2017. The problem many employers face is vacant positions due to unqualified workers. To fill these positions, manufacturing needs to skill-up and retrain the current and future workforce. Vocational facilities for industries including manufacturing can truly make an impact on local communities to create sustainable jobs, higher wages and low unemployment rates regionally.

VIEW: Photos from the new AMP Training Center

What does it mean to work in manufacturing? For some, they see it as an industry booming with innovative ideas and state-of-the-art technology. For others, they see engineers and machinists designing and developing the next generation of parts for industries including aerospace, medical, and marine.

National Manufacturing Day, celebrated on the first Friday in October brings together the misconceptions, the public perception, and the career pathways that make up what many would argue is the most vital industry to our country. More than anything, Manufacturing Day is an opportunity to bring modern manufacturing to life for the public.

Teri Hegel, AJAC’s Technical Specialist talks with students about CNC Machining during National Manufacturing Day on Friday, October 6th at South Seattle College – Georgetown Campus

For National Manufacturing Day, the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) partnered with the Tacoma School District, Rainier Beach High School, OMAX Corporation, Cadence Aerospace – PMW Operations, Gensco, and South Seattle College to offer tours, hands-on activities, and presentations about all things manufacturing. Many of the students we invited were currently enrolled in Career and Technical Education programs such as aerospace science, engineering and manufacturing.

 

2017 is a unique year for AJAC’s Manufacturing Day initiatives, as we launch the next wave of Youth Apprenticeship cohorts for this school year. Students from every background and social-economic status came together and learned what a day-in-the-life is like for a manufacturer; from concept to design, to fabrication and machining. These are the components each company utilizes to make their products world renown.

At Cadence Aerospace – PMW Operations, students saw larger-than-life CNC machines cutting metal parts for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and Airbus’s A320-Neo. They rode a 5-axis Cincinnati Milacron Gantry CNC machine as it spewed coolant over the airplane parts, cutting each part with precision. At Gensco, a company known for its fabrication of HVAC equipment, students were drawn to laser cutters and heavy sheet metal equipment to build commercial heating and ventilation systems we have in our very buildings. OMAX Corporation, the world leader in abrasive waterjet machining, demonstrated how 60,000 PSI of water can machine parts down to the thousands of an inch.

Throughout the three tours, students understood what it takes to become a journey-level machinist or fabricator. AJAC’s registered Youth Apprenticeship and Adult Apprenticeship programs brought to life the career pathways that give them freedom to earn while they learn, complete college-level classes, and refrain from years of college debt.

AJAC would like to thank all of the companies and post-secondary organizations for opening their doors to the world of modern manufacturing. By working together during and after Manufacturing Day, manufacturers will begin to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.

View our MFG Day 2017 photos on AJAC’s Flickr channel.