During a private meeting at Cadence Aerospace, Governor Inslee and his staff met with representatives from the aerospace manufacturer, AJAC and current Youth Apprentices to discuss how the registered Youth Apprenticeship program is going in year two. Cadence, a global leader in aerospace manufacturing, hired four youth apprentices in June to expand their workforce of skilled machinists and retain their presence in the competitive aerospace market.

Governor Inslee toured the shop with the Youth Apprentices, learning about the various machines, processes and parts used built airplanes for Boeing and Airbus. After the tour and meeting concluded, Inslee spoke on camera about the growth of AJAC’s Youth Apprenticeship and why it is a value part of his Career Connect Washington initiative.

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.

On June 27, 2018, 67 newly registered Youth Apprentices signed their letter of agreement signifying a commitment to work in the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries through the  Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee’s (AJAC) Production Technician Youth Apprenticeship program. These 67 Youth Apprentices are employed across 30+ manufacturers and nine counties in Washington State.

Youth Apprentices throughout the program will receive 15 tuition-free college credits, two high school credits, roughly $28,000 in earned income and a nationally-recognized journey-level credential.

View photos from the event on AJAC’s Flickr page.

 

SEATTLE, WA – On Friday, June 22nd, Washington State became home to 72 new aerospace and advanced manufacturing journeymen and women apprentices. The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) recognized the Class of 2018 as the largest to date, journeying out highly-skilled workers for the industry’s top occupations including machinists, metal fabricators, tool and die makers and the first youth apprentices as production technicians.

To receive a journey-level credential from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, all apprentices must meet their required on-the-job and college-classroom hours in addition to completing a CPR/First-Aid Certification course.

“The perseverance of the 72 graduates equates to a combined 41,000 hours of college-level classroom instruction and over half a million on-the-job training hours,” said Demetria “Lynn” Strickland, Executive Director of AJAC, during her closing remarks. As apprentices develop mastery on the shop floor, they become more knowledgeable in their trade, until they graduate, and journey-out as master craftsmen in their own right.

Jesse Milbrath, a graduate machinist at Machinists, Inc., in Seattle and a member of the Class of 2018, spoke during the ceremony about his journey through apprenticeship, including the remarkable defeat of becoming the youngest machinist graduate at 21 years old. “If you want something you have to work for it. Without apprenticeship, I wouldn’t have been able to support myself, and the goals I’ve set forward for my life. Being here today is a culmination of people believing in me, and me believing in myself. Now, it is our job to keep believing in ourselves, but more importantly, start to believe in others,” Jesse concluded.

Understanding the value an apprentice is determined by each company’s journey-level wage rate. Apprentices start out at a percentage of that wage rate, typically 60% or more. Once an apprentice becomes a journey-level worker, he or she can physically show their value through this recognized credential.

Now, it is our job to keep believing in ourselves, but more importantly, start to believe in others

“You now have something to show your knowledge,” Milbrath said. “Instead of someone trying to take my word for it, I know my worth.”

Over the next five years, the Washington State projects a staggering 740,000 job openings will be available for skilled workers, including many in the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries. Finding skilled workers is a daunting challenge for many employers today, however, through registered apprenticeships, vital industries can remain competitive for generations to come.

Congratulations to the AJAC Class of 2018!

View photos from the ceremony via AJAC’s Flickr Page.

Seth Hamilton was nearing his 17th birthday and knew he wasn’t going to college. His after-high-school plans did not involve a four-year institution. Rising student loans and lack of finances steered Seth away from the popular choice of college and universities. As a junior at Lincoln High School, Seth enrolled in AJAC’s first Youth Apprenticeship program for high school students. One year later, Seth, along with Sean Colyer, another youth apprentice, are set to graduate and become Washington State’s first youth apprentice graduates this June.

During a visit from Governor Inslee in April, four of AJAC’s youth apprentices, along with their respective employers, toured the Governor around their shop floor highlighting the impact Youth Apprenticeship has made. “We started years ago trying to recruit younger people,” said Marianne Eveland, Production Manager at Quality Stamping & Machining. “This program allows the community to have extra help recruiting the right type of people.” A thorough vetting process designed by AJAC and local employers provided companies a platform to find the right candidates who have a focus on growing their skill set in manufacturing, whether it be machining, engineering, or fabrication.

Seth Hamilton, one of AJAC’s first Youth Apprentice graduates, prepares his HAAS CNC machine for a new part.

During the recruitment process at all ten Tacoma public high schools, Hamilton showed a strong interest in manufacturing. Lincoln High School, known locally for its outstanding shop class, laid the foundation for his success at American Structures & Design. Although he worked with manual machines in high school, Hamilton soon developed a new-found-love for Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines, “Working on CNC machines is pretty intimate. It can be tedious at times, but you’re not doing the same thing every day. It has a lot of different things that can happen, different things you have to look for. It keeps the job interesting, it keeps your brain working.”

What else are we going to build and how else are we going to build this company? Knowing today, it’s going to be with the younger guys.” – Mark Weissenbuehler, President of American Structures & Design

Sean Colyer, another Lincoln High School graduate, works alongside Seth at American Structures & Design in the machining department. Unlike Seth, Sean did not take shop class during his time in high school. However, engineering class contributed to his success in AJAC’s Youth Apprenticeship program. “What I’ve enjoyed doing at American Structures & Design is mainly work on machines and have the ability to do more than just machining,” Colyer said. “Engineer Design in high school helped me with knowing how AutoCAD works, which all of our drawings are based off of. It’s nice having the background of how the drawings are made while I look at the blueprint.”

Sean Colyer shakes Governor Inslee’s hand after learning about Sean’s new role at American Structures & Design.

Employing high school students on the shop floor can do more than help a company’s bottom line and hiring needs. It brings an added excitement. It enriches the morale of the shop floor from entry-level employees to the very top.

Mark Weissenbuehler, President of American Structures & Design, noticed the enthusiasm youth apprentices bring to manufacturing, “As we got involved with the youth apprentices, and the younger generation, it was fun to watch them evolve, learn, and get excited. Which in return helped me learn and get excited,” Weissenbuehler said. “It filled the need for where my company is at and where we are going. What else are we going to build and how else are we going to build this company? Knowing today, it’s going to be with the younger guys.”

Sam Yost and Tanner Gerken, two Youth Apprentices at Quality Stamping & Machining, pose for a photo with Governor Jay Inslee.

The trend across America for employing the next generation is changing. No longer does every student fit into the same mold as a four-year, college-bound student. Too many jobs and opportunities are being passed simply because the experience of working in manufacturing isn’t made available. Youth Apprenticeship has made local companies in Washington State find the diamond in the ruff. The diamond in this case is a determined, well-mannered, motivated, and technologically advanced high school student. Youth Apprenticeship doesn’t have to be for someone who will never go to a four-year college, but it can be for anyone who wants to connect real-world skills with their personal interests and aspirations.

Hamilton and Colyer are set to graduate on June 22nd as Production Technicians Youth Apprentices. The road to manufacturing has been paved, but their journey is far from over. After their requirements are met, Hamilton and Colyer will enroll in AJAC’s Machinist (Aircraft Oriented) apprenticeship program to continue their education and on-the-job training. But where would they be today if this opportunity didn’t exist?

“I hope as more and more people find out about this program, especially if they are younger in high school like I was, to seriously think about it. If you have a little experience, and you like it, you can start making money right away. Kick start your life rather than wait around for ten years, not knowing what to do,” Hamilton explained. “The fact I get paid to take college courses, is the exact opposite of what it normally is, it’s pretty cool, I like it a lot. But I honestly don’t know where I would be today.”

View photos from Governor Inslee’s visit on AJAC’s Flickr page.