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!

 

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.

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.