AJAC is thrilled to announce we are the recipients of $1.3 million in grant funding through the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ “Aerospace Workforce Development Expansion” Grant.

In September 2021, L&I released $3.8 million to expand aerospace workforce development training opportunities over the next two years. This month, our organization successfully bid for $1.3 million of the $3.8 to invest in new equipment and training facilities dedicated to registered apprenticeship and apprenticeship preparation for the aerospace supply chain.

In addition to equipment and facilities, the resources will be used to create a new Veterans Liaison position at AJAC to recruit veterans and veteran spouses into AJAC training programs. AJAC will work with the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council to integrate these resources into existing programs serving the Joint Base Lewis-McCord community.

Resources will also support investments into bridge programs for English as a Second Language (ESL) workers and job seekers interested in aerospace employment and careers.

“AJAC is appreciative of the opportunity provided by this new grant to significantly expand access to registered apprenticeship and apprenticeship preparation programs for the aerospace and advanced manufacturing supply chain,” said Demetria “Lynn” Strickland, Executive Director for AJAC. This investment will lead to stronger engagement with transitioning military members and their families, increased access for non-native English speaking communities, and new equipment for apprentices and pre-apprentices as we expand our training footprint to underserved areas of our state.

In total, resources will be used to update/purchase new equipment at up to 35 different AJAC training facilities, which are hosted at local community and technical colleges, high schools, community-based organizations, and public workforce development offices.

At least 250 participants will be served through apprenticeship preparation programs over the course of the grant and 150 new apprentices will enroll in AJAC registered apprenticeship programs.

 

Launched annually on the first Friday in October with events that continue throughout the month, MFG Day helps show the reality of modern manufacturing careers by encouraging thousands of companies and educational institutions around the nation to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders.

MFG Day empowers manufacturers to come together to address their collective challenges so they can help their communities and future generations thrive.

To usher in MFG Day 2021, AJAC partnered with West Valley High School (Yakima, Washington) and Pexco Aerospace (Union Gap, Washington) to highlight the advanced manufacturing opportunities in the Yakima Valley.

Beginning in 2014, AJAC partnered with the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to provide a 12-week pre-apprenticeship training to incarcerated young men living in a DCYF transitional living facility in Tacoma, Washington.

This partnership was created to provide young people impacted by the juvenile justice system with a tangible opportunity to transition out of the Juvenile Rehabilitation-operated facility and into the community with real-world experience and skills that translate into in-demand jobs.  

We currently offer two cohorts per year to include a 12-week training and a 12-week paid internship at a local manufacturing company so as to provide stronger connections to industry for incarcerated young people largely without work histories or connections to industry upon their release. 

Upon completion, Juvenile Rehabilitation (JR) students will have up to 300 hours of classroom learning and 120 hours of practical work experience.

To capitalize on the skills learned in class, AJAC works with its network of 300 advanced manufacturing employers to identify internship opportunities for students who wish to apply their knowledge of the trades to a real-world environment. 

Since January 2019, over 40 young men from the JR program have participated in this new program design, with 41 participating in a paid internships at Tacoma-based manufacturing companies – almost all at Berry Global, a plastic bottling company who is also an AJAC training agent (apprenticeship employer partner). 

Employers interested in partnering with AJAC’s Manufacturing Academy can learn more here.

The Equity Index was established to develop equity-based partnerships and provide resources and support in the most vulnerable, underfunded communities in King County. With the Equity Index, the Port employs a data-driven approach to understanding environmental inequities and socioeconomic factors, using that data to inform decision-making.

The following is an example of a project that the Port is currently involved in to help address inequities and challenges in our community. Demetria “Lynn” Strickland, Executive Director of the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) shares thoughts about her organization’s partnership with the City of Kent and Port of Seattle to develop the Manufacturing Employee Retention Program through the Port’s Economic Development Partnership Program.

Economic Alliance Snohomish County offers regular webinar’s through their Coffee Chat’s series. The topic on August 17th was Leveraging Apprenticeships to Strengthen Your Workforce. Participants included Angie Sievers, Snohomish STEM; Seth Jacobsen (Sr. Manager, Apprenticeship and Career Development), ATS; Carey Schroyer (Dean of STEM) Edmonds College, Lynn Strickland & Erin Williams, AJAC.

Diversification of our programs to cross multiple industries through the intentional design has been pivotal. Workforce development is a part of economic development and if one industry is experiencing challenges, what other industries can apprentices “cross-over” into to use the skills and knowledge they have learned.

AJAC was asked how we adjusted during the pandemic including our shift from 30 face-to-face classes per quarter, utilizing 50 par-time instructors, to online learning. AJAC also spoke about Youth Apprenticeship, its challenges, and how employers came forward offering virtual tours, and writing letters of support of secure funding.

Lastly the discussion focused on how AJAC is serving Snohomish County residents through pre-apprenticeship training, continuing youth apprenticeship, and working with Workforce Snohomish on new grants to survey logistics-related needs of manufacturing employers.

 

The Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) invited AJAC and Tool Gauge to their Factory Friday Tour event to discuss workforce training solutions including registered apprenticeship programs for advanced manufacturing. The discussion included three AJAC apprentices from Tool Gauge, who expanded on their experience in the program, how it has fast-tracked their career, and the benefits for becoming a registered apprentice.

A special thank you to PNAA for inviting AJAC to this event and Tool Gauge for their continued partnership with our apprenticeship programs.

Beginning in 2014, AJAC partnered with the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to provide a 12-week pre-apprenticeship training to incarcerated young men living in a DCYF transitional living facility in Tacoma, WA.

The success of the DCYF partnership in Tacoma provided a blueprint for a pre-apprenticeship program design for opportunity youth, with funds from the Aspen Institute’s “Pathways to Careers”, provided critical capacity building and instructional support for AJAC to work with partners including Federal Way Public Schools, the Boys & Girls Club of King County, the YMCA Social Impact Center, and the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County (WDC).

The Boys & Girls Club’s EX3 Teen Center in Federal Way was identified as a training location for opportunity youth associated with Federal Way Public School’s Truman Campus, which hosts two alternative high school programs, Open Doors at Truman and Career Academy at Truman, as well as the Internet Academy for grades K-12.

Over the last two years, AJAC has partnered with Federal Way Public School’s Truman Campus and the Federal Way Boys & Girls Club to offer AJAC’s Manufacturing Academy to FWPS students looking to explore different career paths and interests. AJAC’s 10-week pre-apprenticeship program covered technical skill development in shop math, blueprint reading, and precision measurement. Students also earned industry-recognized certifications in forklift, OSHA-10, CPR/First-Aid, and lean manufacturing.

Upon completion of the 10-week program, students will not only leave with technical manufacturing skills, but soft skills that can increase their chances of employability. AJAC’s instructors teach students how to work independently and in teams, how to develop an effective resume, and how to dress and act appropriately in the workplace.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of King County’s teen employment program, YouthForce, handled case management for the students through the Workforce Innovative and Opportunity Act (WIOA). “This program right here gets them a well-rounded approach to the workforce. They’re well-prepared. You’re not just getting manufacturing skills. You’re getting on-the job-skills, too,” said Brian Maina, Program Manager at Youth Force. “I see more responsible young people in my community, after going through programs like this, that essentially could expose youth to those jobs or opportunities that, otherwise, they wouldn’t have been exposed to were not for AJAC.”

To capitalize on the skills learned in class, AJAC works with its network of 300 advanced manufacturing employers to identify internship opportunities for students who wish to apply their knowledge of the trades to a real-world environment. Not only will students earn a weekly stipend by participating in the Manufacturing Academy program, but can continue to earn additional income through structured internships at local companies.

“I just see kids that are excited, excited about the outlook of what’s out there. It’s not just law school or medical school,” said Brian. “There’s trades that can be done and be a responsible young person that can provide for themselves and their families.”

To learn more about the Manufacturing Academy, please visit: https://www.ajactraining.org/apprenticeship/pre-apprenticeships/