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.

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.

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/

When you walk into AJAC’s Manufacturing Academy at South Seattle College-Georgetown Campus the first thing you’ll notice is the intimidating computer numerical controlled (CNC) and manual machines scattered around the classroom, the second thing you notice is a group of students operating these machines.

Geoff Coles-Lelievre guides one of his fellow students on a Sharpe VS 1640 Conventional Lathe, giving him little pieces of advice while still letting him take the reins on the operation. It’s hard to imagine that just eight weeks ago Coles-Lelievre had never operated a machine like this and now, is well on his way to a career in manufacturing.

Geoff is thriving in the program, making parts with precision, leading by example, and tutoring his classmates. Geoff explains that the reason for his success is the focused nature of the program, saying “Having a program that’s focus is to get you into an entry level position is different from my experiences at a traditional university. Traditionally, you have a lot of prerequisites that aren’t directly related to what your major is. Sometimes that distracts or gets in the way of what you want to do.”

Geoff is self-described as “mechanically inclined” and has a background as an automotive technician. He has benefited greatly from the hands on approach the Manufacturing Academy provides, “Some people learn better by going in there and getting their hands dirty and doing things instead of being told how to do it.”

“There is so much material to cover over the ten weeks but there’s so many opportunities once you get out into the manufacturing field that the only way to go from here is up. There is just so many options after you get this training, it’s like ‘where do you want to go, you can work for anyone.’”

While the ten week program may seem brief, instructor Troy Ironmonger says the amount students learn makes the program invaluable for someone who wants to start a career in manufacturing. “We touch on blueprint reading, precision measuring, conventional and CNC machining, physics, electricity, hydraulics, pneumatics, we learn how to draw, we apply that to CNC machining and CNC laser cutting and by the end of ten weeks we are producing industrial maintenance technician students and machine operators.”

Geoff is set to graduate from the program in late August and hopes to take what he has learned to the advanced manufacturing industry, hopefully manufacturing parts for rockets and satellites, “this is a field where it’s easy to get a career and not just a job.”

Please welcome the newest addition to the AJAC family, John Manning. John has been hired as our new Apprenticeship Navigator serving primarily King and Pierce Counties. John will help navigate job seekers into AJAC’s portfolio of programs including our pre-apprenticeship program, Manufacturing Academy and one of nine adult apprenticeship programs. Get to know John below!

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?

Barack Obama. The amazing impact he has made on our world has let us know that we must keep fighting the good fight.

What’s the best part of your job so far?

At AJAC I love that I have supportive coworkers that are available to inform, advise and work with me.

What’s the best joke you’ve ever heard?

My college roommates 7 year old sister told us a version of the below joke 30 years ago and I still tell it.
A duck walks into a store and says, “Give me some Chapstick.”
The clerk says, “How are you going to pay for that?”
“Oh, just put it on my bill.”

If you could bring one musician back from the dead, who would it be and why?

Bob Marley. His music is timeless. Just think what else he could have shared with us.

If you could live in a book, TV show or movie, what would it be?

Californication. Hank Moody seems like a blast.