OLYMPIA — A new $5 million federal grant awarded to Washington today will expand technology job opportunities for women, minorities, veterans and others in the state. The U.S. Department of Labor announced today that Washington state will receive the grant as part of the federal American Apprenticeship Initiative.
The state Department of Labor & Industries will administer the grant that’s expected to provide training and jobs for up to 1,000 people, 600 of them in the technology industry.
More than half of the funds — $3.5 million — will go to the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) to create an apprenticeship program in the information technology industry. The initiative will be carried out through an innovative partnership between the state, WTIA, and technology companies including Microsoft, F5 and AT&T.
“Technology companies in Washington are struggling to fill their growing number of vacant, skilled positions,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Our state is known internationally as a technological leader. This grant puts us in a position to continue to lead the way while providing high-paying jobs for people who live in our communities. I am increasingly concerned with the lack of opportunity and security for our working families and can’t think of a better time to create opportunities for living wage jobs in our state.”
“Washington will be the first state to create a large-scale apprenticeship, finding and training workers for the high-demand tech sector,” said WTIA CEO Michael Schutzler. “These apprenticeships are a critical step toward bridging the current tech-talent gap we face, empowering us to build a stronger, homegrown workforce representative of the diversity in our state.”
Along with the technology program, the grant provides apprenticeship funding for community colleges on both sides of the state. Bates Technical College in Tacoma and Spokane Community College, working with the Spokane Area Workforce Development Council, will receive funding for traditional building trades and apprenticeship preparation programs.
“Apprenticeships provide a wonderful opportunity for people to earn while they learn,” said Labor & Industries Director Joel Sacks. “This grant will allow us to expand access to traditional apprenticeships, like construction, and create new opportunities in high-demand fields that haven’t typically used apprenticeship programs to train workers.”
The federal Department of Labor also announced $4.8 million in grant funding to South Seattle College for advanced manufacturing and marine engineering apprenticeships.
“Apprenticeships provide a perfect blend of hands-on training and classroom learning,” said State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Executive Director Marty Brown. “They translate into great jobs and upward mobility for the people of Washington.”
There are more than 240 registered apprenticeship training programs in the state with more than 10,000 active apprentices. Information on apprenticeships is available online at www.lni.wa.gov.