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About AJAC
Components of a Successful Program
Our Current and Most Recent Activities
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With the intent to begin training the next generation workforce for the aerospace industry, the Washington State legislature allotted funds to develop, design and implement joint labor/management aerospace apprenticeship programs in order to fill the looming shortfall of skilled workers. Initiated in October 2008, the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee is charged with filling the vacancies left by those retiring from the aerospace industry with skilled workers equipped with cutting edge knowledge and a solid foundation in tried and true best practices. The following is a status report of what has since ensued.

Getting Started

To manage the funds, employees and the apprenticeship committee, a non-profit organization and its apprenticeship committee called Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) were created. The first months involved determining the funding process, signing the initial contracts, finding a location for headquarters, and the hiring of the Training Director, Laura Hopkins. In addition, the required legal policies and procedures were put into place. After initial survey of industry businesses both large and small, we met with the first four community colleges, assessed industry workforce needs, created a logo and other marketing materials and have now begun intensive outreach efforts.

Industry Driven

To determine where to begin building apprenticeship programs and what occupations to develop them in, AJAC created a survey to learn about industry needs. Most responses came from employers located in upper King and lower Snohomish County and indicated that they needed machinists and aircraft mechanics.  By January 2009, AJAC, along with industry reps, labor, the WA State Apprenticeship Council, created and approved apprentice standards and wage rates in the occupations of composites, aircraft mechanics, and machining. 
We started the aircraft mechanics program in conjunction with Everett Community College (EVCC). Near completion is the development of a machining program with EVCC, South Seattle CC and Bates Technical College in Tacoma.  As more companies emerge we plan to expand the number of occupations and locations throughout Washington State. Demand for skilled labor in Spokane has us building partnerships with businesses there.  We are making positive strides toward building alliances with community colleges and Workforce development organizations across the state and welcome all interest.
 *The survey is still available for all aerospace employers. It can be found at
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Success for All

The apprenticeship model is one that brings many benefits for apprentices, employers, and community colleges. AJAC believes it is imperative to create, and make known, as many incentives as possible for all those involved. With this in mind, AJAC is committed to:
  • Apprentices: working to improve funding from the Workforce Investment Act to cover training costs, attaching college credit to apprenticeship coursework and creating seamless articulations with 4-year programs, and creating pre-apprenticeship programs with high schools
  • Employers: identifying state and federal incentives for employers who participate in the program
  • Community Colleges: working to fill classes and provide support for the relevant programs


AJAC is committed to providing avenues for apprentices to continue their education and gain appropriate recognition for their knowledge and skills. We are pursuing seamless transitions from high school pre-apprenticeship and internship programs, through college credit for their community college work, to baccalaureate programs that allow apprentices to achieve degrees and industry certification.

AJAC is focused on recruiting employers and apprentices. 
To gain publicity for this project, the training director has taken part in industry association meetings including: AFA, PNAA, AMCON, Building Skills and INWAC.  Brochures and the AJAC website provide information for employers as well.  Informing employers of the apprenticeship program has been and continues to be a priority. 

Five subcategories of apprentice recruitment:

   1. Workers and veterans who need/want retraining
   2. High school students
   3. Parents
   4. High school teachers
   5. Advisors and counselors

The marketing plan includes internships and job shadows for students; symposiums targeting parents to introduce them to the various career choices their children have in the manufacturing sector; and a "Teach the Teacher" program. 
Critical to the success of the apprenticeship program is creating pathways into the aerospace industry.  Together Greater Spokane Inc. and Spokane Schools have created a successful method for recruitment of students into careers including advanced manufacturing. Through partnerships with business and school districts, teachers get continuing education credits for participating in half day workshops at the actual worksites and community colleges. The teachers then bring the information back to their students. 
Through collaborative efforts AJAC plans to use and expand this effective model in all regions of Washington State.  We are in the process of using the model around the aircraft mechanics apprenticeship program and one of our industry partners, Aviation Technical Services (ATS). 

Diversity in Aerospace Apprenticeships

We are pursuing grants which will allow us to provide innovative techniques for building diversity in our apprenticeship programs.

Measuring Results

Because AJAC is committed to results, we are looking into options for setting up an effective system to measure outcomes and success. We are currently in dialogue with organizations and exploring the ways we can implement specific, measurable results.

21st Century Apprenticeship Programs

AJAC is committed to facilitating a comprehensive and fulfilling learning environment for its apprentices.  At this time, competency based learning and interim certificates are a focus to determine best practices and viability for our programs.
AJAC joined the newly created Washington State Collaboration for Success team who realized that groups of people with common goals will accomplish those goals successfully and more efficiently when working together collaboratively.  The work includes but is not limited to building recognition and utilization of apprenticeship programs as an integral part of the Washington state workforce, combating the "blue collar" stereotypes, streamlining the apprenticeship practices, and working towards developing better funding structures.
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  • Applied for approval of six more occupations through the Washington state apprenticeship council
  • Developing standards for aircraft interiors program
  • Working on coming to agreement on wage rates for the above mentioned occupations
  • Completed the development of full supplemental instruction for the machining and aircraft mechanics programs
  • Developed a machining and aircraft mechanics curriculum with joint input from industry, community colleges and AJAC representatives
  • Starting process of submitting machining and aircraft mechanics program through community college curriculum committees to allow the apprentices to get college credit for classes
  • Identifying best practices for tracking apprentices from application to completion of the program and the process of reporting out to Washington State Labor & Industries 
  • Starting discussion with 4-year schools to develop articulation processes
  • Applied for approval from L&I for a workplace variation so high school students will be able to do internships at Aviation Technical Services (ATS)
  • Hired a program specialist whose primary focus will be to recruit apprentices from around the state into apprenticeships
  • On-going industry recruitment across Washington State through one on one contact and presentations
  • Working collaboratively to create processes and programs for returning veterans to achieve success
  • Investigating methods for incorporating competency based training 
  • Working to understand and incorporate the new Federal Regulations regarding apprenticeships
  • Meeting with high schools to discuss partnerships
  • Tacoma Machinist Apprenticeship program became a subcommittee of AJAC collaborating for success
  • Investigating and applying for grants to increase diversity, reach the greatest number of apprentices, and making the program sustainable
  • Created the website (
  • Became a member of the Washington State Collaborating for Success team, which is working to develop links between WIA and Apprenticeship programs
  • Finding methods to train even in a recession


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Develop, implement and maintain thriving aerospace apprenticeship programs for the purpose of creating a pool of highly skilled aerospace workers and connecting employers and work seekers of Washington State. Our goals include but are not limited to:

Articulate with industry certification and college degrees when possible.

Determine program location and occupations based on industry needs

Develop and maintain long term sustainable funding structures

Utilize innovative training and technology

Create efficient and effective training systems that evolve with the needs of the industry

Measure results

Increase diversity of the workforce

Be an integral part of Washington State's workforce development

Internally promote a thriving, respectful, and collaborative work environment
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Skilled workers are not something that can be bought, but something industry can create