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.