Nearly two years ago before the start of the pandemic, AJAC held its last in-person employer roundtable in Snohomish County. Since then, a dramatic shift in workforce development and skill advancement has taken place across the state, particularly in the county’s robust manufacturing industry.

Snohomish County’s concentration of manufacturing workers is the largest in Washington State, in fact, there are more manufacturing jobs in this county than any other west of the Rocky Mountains. With a large manufacturing footprint, comes new challenges with skill advancement and remaining competitive in the labor market.

   

The labor shortage of entry-level and middle-skilled positions continues to be a topic of conversation among manufacturing employers, who face obstacles the labor market has not seen in decades. To address these needs, AJAC focused its roundtable discussion on the investment of apprenticeship, not only as a recruitment strategy, but a sustainable pipeline for skilled occupations.

“There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to navigating the different avenues AJAC can serve employer members,” said Demetria “Lynn” Strickland, Executive Director at AJAC. “These roundtables give our staff an opportunity to have intimate conversations with local employers, understand their needs, and work with them to develop programming that will help in bridging their workforce development gap.”

20 small to medium-sized employers representing the aerospace, plastics, maritime, transportation, food processing, and social enterprise industries participated in the 90 minute discussion including employers active in registered apprenticeship and those looking to diversify their internal training goals.

“It was encouraging to have so many local employers attend this roundtable, given the difficult state of affairs with COVID-19,” said Erin Williams, Regional Program Manager at AJAC. “Whether they are hiring immediately or anticipate a future hiring need, AJAC is poised to help manufacturers address those needs in real-time through our suite of training programs and strategic partnerships across the state.”

AJAC touched on new entry-level and advanced apprenticeship programs including the Industrial Manufacturing Technician and CNC Programmer, along with grant stipends for employers, financial aid for apprentices, youth apprenticeship, and onsite mentorship and OJT support services. Employers were eager to learn about AJAC’s upcoming Logistics & Supply Chain apprenticeship—aimed to directly support frontline and warehouse workers who want to build up additional credentials focused on logistics and supply chain management.

A special thank you to Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center for hosting this event.

Launch an AJAC apprenticeship at your company today!

Family based. Good pay. Good benefits. Those were the three takeaways from students who toured Buyken Metal Products last Thursday as part of a nationwide celebration of manufacturing.

Manufacturing Day—occurring the first Friday of October—is meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers and create a dialogue about why manufacturing is in a better place than ever before.

Buyken Metal Products, an 80 year-old CNC, metal fabrication, and engineering shop, opened their doors on Thursday, October 4th to showcase, highlight and inform the Manufacturing Academy students about their company and what separates them from other manufacturers.

The Manufacturing Academy, sponsored by the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) offers a solid foundational career pathway into aerospace and advanced manufacturing apprenticeship opportunities. Upon completion, students will have the basic foundational skills to find gainful entry-level employment and may meet the minimum qualifications to pursue additional career pathways in advanced manufacturing through AJAC’s portfolio of apprenticeship programs.

“Buyken is continually advancing our technology and streamlining operations. We offer everything from general stamping and brake press operators to laser, punch and CNC operators and programmers,” said Laura Hawk, Buyken’s Operations Manager. “We are always open to looking for new people to add to our family to help make us better while we grow our business.”

14 students from the Manufacturing Academy class received presentations from Buyken about the history of their company, the various positions on the shop floor, and what they look for in future employees. Buyken, a partner in apprenticeship training, offers each employee opportunities to continue their professional development, whether it’s through apprenticeship classes or short-term training programs.

“The CEO was very inspiring and clearly has a great vision for the growth of the company,” said Daniel Cho, a 23 year-old Manufacturing Academy student from Kent, Washington. “He encourages cross training, education, and hands-on learning which is very good to see. The company seems like it really takes care of its ‘family’.”

Manufacturing Day is more than opening doors to the public, its focus is knocking down stereotypes about the industry that have plagued it for decades. For people who have never stepped inside a manufacturing facility before, there are preconceived ideas of what it may be like to work in the industry. For the students, it was nothing short of an irreplaceable experience.

“We hope students’ take away was a clearer sense of the processes, machines, responsibilities and opportunities in the manufacturing environment,” Hawk told the students.

“Buyken appreciates participating in the Manufacturing Day yearly to foster new interest in the manufacturing trades and give students a first-hand view of what they can expect in the metal fabrication workplace.”

For Cho, who has eight weeks left of his Manufacturing Academy class, hopes new pathways, such as those highlighted at Buyken, will bring a newfound interest to the trades, “I am excited for what the future holds for me in this class and my possible endeavors.”

You can learn more about AJAC’s registered apprenticeship preparation program at www.ManufacturingAcademy.org. AJAC is an industry-driven apprenticeship organization, founded on the belief that mastery occurs on the job. Through pre-apprenticeship, youth apprenticeship and adult apprenticeship, all people have the opportunity to earn competitive wages, find meaningful and fulfilling work, and pursue lifelong learning. AJAC currently serves over 350 apprentices and 250 employers across eight high-demand occupations.

 

AJAC’s Training Agent Aeroplastics was recently interviewed by Seattle’s KING-TV to highlight their efforts in creating parts for industries outside of aerospace. Watch the clip above and read more about this company here.

tommy phs

Tommy grew up in a big family with three brothers and two sisters in Grays Harbor on Washington State’s coast. He was involved in school and sports as a young teen. However, when things started to get difficult at home, Tommy started spending more time outside of the house, hanging out with a different crowd.

At first, he was just hanging out with kids and smoking marijuana, but then meth was introduced to him and his addiction began. Tommy stopped participating in school sports and going to class, and in his freshman year he started robbing houses with other boys to pay for his new habit. He was kicked out of high school for his many truancies and arrests.

In his sophomore year he transferred to a new high school but things really went downhill when he started selling drugs. By the time he was a junior he had served time in juvenile detention, and when he was released he went to live with his grandmother. He attempted to attend school and work, but the violations and arrests built up again as his addiction reared its ugly head.

This AJAC apprenticeship training that Pioneer is giving me brings some light to the end of the tunnel.

Eventually, Tommy’s felonies for possession of drugs and stolen property lead led him to prison. He ended up serving a 20-month sentence in prison and several years on probation. After his release, he fell back into drug use – but this time he was selling heroin and meth. At a family event his former partner brought his child to see him and that’s when Tommy realized he needed to get clean.

When I looked into my son’s eyes I knew that I had to quit. I was sinking fast and I needed help. I self-reported my drug use to my probation officer and was put into residential treatment.

When Tommy finished the treatment program he moved in with family in Everett for support and attended NA meetings. His probation officer told him about Pioneer and he enrolled in the Roadmap to Success job training program to get prepared for work. He learned about Pioneer’s aerospace manufacturing division and was hired at Pioneer Industries six days after he graduated from Roadmap to Success.

Tommy has off probation and working hard over the last few years at Pioneer Industries learning all the manufacturing machines. He was accepted into the two-year AJAC sheet metal fabrication apprenticeship program and is excelling in the program.

“People need to realize that when someone gets out of prison they have debts and responsibilities stacked on them immediately. Getting hired in a job where you can grow your position is really important. I want to be a good father and provider and this AJAC apprenticeship training that Pioneer is giving me brings some light to the end of the tunnel. Housing is another issue and scoring an affordable apartment in one of Pioneer’s housing programs was a big relief.”

AJAC was granted permission from Pioneer Human Services to publish this article. Click here to read the original. 

The Victory Series | Episode 12 Featuring Matt Washburn of Senior Aerospace AMT from 4th Avenue Media on Vimeo.

How a business leader is keeping manufacturing and machining alive, by training millennials in skilled trades. Hear from Matt Washburn of Senior Aerospace AMT, who is redefining the stigma of manufacturing, and the impact it’s having on local communities.

Senior Aerospace AMT is a long-time AJAC Training Agent located in Arlington, Washington. Learn more about their company here.