SEATTLE—58 apprentices from seven different occupations walked across the stage at The Museum of Flight on Friday, June 17th during AJAC’s annual apprenticeship graduation ceremony.
The graduating apprentices, who represent 44 different employers, earned their nationally-recognized journey-level certification from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries after completing their required on-the-job training hours and college-level classes.
Nearly 300 guests packed Seattle’s Museum of Flight as family, friends, coworkers, college partners, and community organizations gathered for the celebration as Washington State continues to make strides in closing the labor shortage caused the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many graduates, completing their program took four or more years considering the impact COVID made on the manufacturing industry.
“As we return to a ‘new normal’, we call on these graduating apprentices to be leaders, mentors, and role models in the ever-evolving advanced manufacturing industries,” said Demetria “Lynn” Strickland, Executive Director of AJAC who also emceed the event. “With the completion of your apprenticeship, you are taking with you a nationally recognized journey-level certification signaling your hard work and perseverance. This provides you with vast opportunities as you grow in your career. The perseverance of the 58 graduates has equated to a combined 2,950 college credits earned, 29,500 classroom hours and 392,000 hours logged through their on-the-job training.”
Lai Thach, a former AJAC machinist graduate, spoke on the importance of continual education and advocacy for the trades during his keynote address, “I ask that each of you keep pursuing new education and skills and look for ways to spread the word of how rewarding our trade is and how much impact our contributions are to the health of our economy. Education does not only mean the traditional route, instead you can pursue new training and certifications out there that will add to your skillset and expand your experiences.”
Graduation is more than a time to celebrate and reflect on the individual accomplishments of each apprentice, but acknowledge the effort made by instructors, colleges, spouses, and mentors for helping each apprentice on their path to success.
As Lai Thach closed out his keynote address, he left the apprentices with a challenge to not stop learning or sharing knowledge, “This designation as a journeyman and license you guys are receiving today is not the end of your learning and advancement. Our industry needs and is offering boundless opportunities for each one of us that are willing to and motivated to advance. So mentor and teach those who are just entering our trade if you can, keep building up skill sets and knowledge. We are the backbone of our civilization, and our trade and the economy at large cannot grow without those of us who are young and skilled to be ready when opportunities reveal themselves.”