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/
On June 22nd, AJAC held its first virtual apprenticeship graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 and 2021—ushering in 129 graduates across six different apprenticeship occupations.
These 129 graduates represented Washington State’s first Automation Technician and Industrial Manufacturing Technician journey-level apprentices in addition to Machinists, Tool & Die Makers, Industrial Maintenance Technicians, and Production Technicians.
The COVID-10 global pandemic fundamentally changed how we work, how we learn, and how we manage the risk to apprentices, coworkers, families and our community members. AJAC’s top priority this past year was to ensure apprentices can continue to learn, whether employed or not, while providing our instructors the ability to teach in environments that are safe, healthy and greatly reduce exposure to COVID-19.
Apprentices are hands-on learners and as an apprenticeship organization, our style of teaching reflects those needs.
If it weren’t for AJAC, I wouldn’t be where I am, making the money I am now, and I might not even have a job.
Emily Wetli, a Production Technician (Youth) graduate from Quality Stamping and Machining, shared a few words about what it meant to complete a registered apprenticeship, “Like most teenagers, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. If it weren’t for AJAC, I would never be in the position I am in now. Throughout my two years, I worked in four departments, ran multi-axis CNC machines, and most recently began working in the programming department. Getting to experience work life while still in high school was a great opportunity and one that I never thought was possible,” Wetli said.
“I have learned to not only love aerospace, but manufacturing as a whole. The youth apprenticeship has been extremely beneficial to my life. After graduating high school earlier this month, I was officially hired on as a full time employee. If it weren’t for AJAC, I wouldn’t be where I am, making the money I am now, and I might not even have a job. With AJAC, I have been with my company for two years, and it has been the best thing I have decided to do with my life,” Wetli added.
With the completion of AJAC’s apprenticeship, apprentices receive a nationally recognized journey-level certification signaling their hard work and perseverance. This provides them with vast opportunities as they grow in their career. The fortitude of our 129 graduates has equated to a combined nearly 5,745 college credits earned, 57,450 classroom hours and over 750,000 hours logged through their on-the-job training!
As we return to a “new normal”, we call on these apprentices to be leaders, mentors, role models and future instructors into the ever-evolving advanced manufacturing industries.
Tracey Turcotte, AJAC’s Youth Apprenticeship Manager held an information session for prospective Youth Apprentices interested in joining our programs for the 2021-2022 school year.
AJAC currently operates two registered Youth Apprenticeship programs for youth. Both the Production Technician (Youth) and Automation Technician (Youth) are 2,000 hour programs designed for high school juniors and seniors to develop career-ready skills in the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries. These apprenticeship programs combine paid on-the-job training at an AJAC employer and college-level classroom instruction which can lead to a high school diploma, journey-level card and short-term college certificate.
AJAC has restructured our Youth Apprenticeship program due to the COVID-19 global pandemic to ensure our students and apprentices can maximize the opportunity to participate while maintaining safety guidelines and taking any necessary precautions.
AJAC has developed 3 pathways for prospective students interested in participating in the 2021 school year. These pathways provide flexibility to our school districts, students, and employers for different levels of engagement.
To learn more about AJAC’s Youth Apprenticeship program including how you can enroll for this coming year, please visit: https://www.ajactraining.org/youth/
Meet AJAC’s new Financial Aid Manager, Leo Vogel. Leo comes to AJAC with over 12 years of experience in financial aid which spans career/adult education, private university education, and public/state university education. Prior to joining AJAC, Leo was the Assistant Director of Financial Aid at the University of California San Diego where he worked closely with many underrepresented student groups including student veterans, undocumented students, and first generation students to assist them with obtaining the funding needed to reach their goals.
What is your proudest career moment?
I’ve had a lot of really great moments in my career but I’m going to lump all the small moments that are similar into my proudest moment. There have been countless times that a student or a parent has called or emailed or sent a card expressing how much the counseling and/or time spent with them helped them through this complicated process and allowed them to understand how they could afford achieving their goals. It may not seem like much, but those reminders of how impactful my work is on people’s lives is very rewarding and that’s the reason I try to help make it as easy as possible for students or apprentices to understand and navigate the application and awarding of financial aid funds. These funds are there to help make this journey easier for people – so removing as many barriers as possible is something I strive for every day.
If you could master one skill that you don’t have right now, what would it be?
Investing. I know that there is a big rise in average person investing with the ease of apps that have been developed, but I like to know and understand something before I do it. I think that knowledge of investing is something that should be taught to people in high school – as it’s such a big part of how the wealthy become even more wealthy and the average person never does. I was always taught to save money growing up – but the more I read the more I feel like I should have been investing money instead of putting it in a shoe box under my bed! I think that’s part of why it’s so exciting to work with AJAC. Helping people gain financial flexibility and get a good paying job is the first step to them having financial freedom. And with that freedom comes the ability to do things like invest or travel or buy a home – things that many of us aspire for but lack the ability to do in our current circumstance.
If you could bring one musician back from the dead who would it be and why?
John Lennon…and I’m not even a fan of the Beatles! My mom however grew up during the time of Beatle mania but she was too young and didn’t have the means to go and see them. It would be the ultimate gift for her – a lifelong dream to see John and Paul perform on stage together.
What would be your perfect day?
I love to golf and since this is a perfect day we’ll throw out reality. I think my perfect day would be to somehow get to play Augusta National with my dad, my grandfather who passed away a few years ago, and my son who is currently only 18 months old. Maybe finish the day with a big BBQ with family and friends coming over and The Highwayman playing live in the backyard.
Which celebrity do you get mistaken for?
I get confused with Edris Elba, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and a lot of the other guys I saw when I googled “most handsome men 2021” 😊.