Washington State to Launch First-Ever Youth Apprenticeship Program For High-Demand Industries


(From left to right) Governor Jay Inslee, Lynn Strickland and Jesse Milbrath

Over the last two years, the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, the Tacoma School District and Bates Technical College have worked on a comprehensive plan to launch youth apprenticeship programs in Washington State for high-demand, high-growth industries. For manufacturing, nearly 3.5 million jobs will need to be filled due to the skills gap, an aging workforce and new technologies requiring more talent in new fields of study.

Youth Apprenticeships will develop young adults to be more productive, lifelong learners, and more importantly, provide them with an opportunity to succeed in a global economy.

On November 1, 2016, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced at the first-annual Governor’s Youth Apprenticeship Summit that Washington will become one of the few states in the country to offer registered apprenticeship programs for high school students and young adults. The summit’s purpose was to advance the Governor’s work based learning initiatives for youth and provide a comprehensive approach to understanding how youth apprenticeships will increase graduation rates, replace the aging workforce and prepare the next generation of skilled workers.

Governor Jay Inslee, Bates Technical College President Ron Langrell and Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland all echoed the same sentiment – we need to create more opportunities to connect young people with great careers for industries that include aerospace, manufacturing, IT, the building trades and many more.


Ron Langrell, President, Bates Technical College

To make these programs as robust as possible, four speakers from South Carolina, Kentucky, Oregon and Wisconsin each shared how their states developed and implemented youth apprenticeship programs, including best practices and road blocks faced along the way. Developing these types of programs can be tricky, as many presenters alluded too. Nevertheless, the return-on-investment for each state was impressive. For example, South Carolina now has 22 times the amount of apprentices than when they first started, and have nine times the amount of programs. “Youth apprenticeship program combines industry driven curriculum with high school credits, and career and tech training with critical on-the-job training preformed at local businesses,” said Brian Rauschenbach, Youth Apprenticeship Consultant for South Carolina Technical College System. “Students can earn a paycheck through part time work while earning a state recognized license in many high demand occupations. Youth registered apprenticeship works to build a solid workforce pipeline for the future,” he added.

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(From Left to Right) John Lukas, Brian Rauschenbach, Gabby Nunley, and Mary Taylor

Kentucky, like many states, are experiencing a shortfall of skilled labor and less-educated individuals entering the workforce, “by 2018, 90% of the fastest growing jobs will require more than a high school education and 31% of small business owners and 41% of manufacturers will be unable to fill jobs,” said Mary Taylor, Industry Training and Development Specialist for the Kentucky Department of Education. Wisconsin on the other hand, is at a 10 year enrollment high in 2016, with over 3,000 students served. According to John Lukas, Vice President of LDI Industries, “At least 75% of youth apprentices enrolled in the program are expected to graduate and get their state certifications. 8% females and 11% minority enrollment for manufacturing.


Lynn Strickland, Executive Director, AJAC

The Governor’s Youth Apprenticeship Summit underscores the viability of a state-wide youth apprenticeship framework. The opportunity for high school students to complete their diploma, earn tuition-free college credits and develop job-ready skills through paid on-the-job training and mentorship cannot be passed up. Youth Apprenticeships will develop young adults to be more productive, lifelong learners, and more importantly, provide them with an opportunity to succeed in a global economy.

Relive the Governor’s Youth Apprenticeship summit on AJAC’s Flickr page.

Video of Governor Jay Inslee’s remarks during the Governor’s Youth Apprenticeship Summit

Aaron Ferrell, November 4, 2016


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