By Jennifer Ferrero and Elizabeth Lundberg
Background on the Air Washington grant
In 2011, Washington was fortunate to receive a 2-year, 20 million grant from the US Department of Labor, to invest in the infrastructure of aerospace manufacturing. The goal of the grant would address a short-term need for the development of skilled labor for the industry. Additionally, it would address a statewide need for creating a pipeline of the next level of aerospace workers to support our burgeoning industry.
As they near the end of the initial grant term, we are re-capping the results of the grant and also telling stories regarding those with direct benefit from the grant.
Note: There is a significant volume of aerospace and advanced manufacturing workers in Washington retiring or leaving the workforce in record numbers over the next 5-10 years. These departures will leave a skills gap in our manufacturing companies. There is a drive statewide through Air Washington and a variety of workforce and economic development firms, colleges, along with the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing to feed the pipeline for the next generation of skilled labor aerospace workers.
Coined, “Air Washington” the grant covered 11 community and technical colleges (see of affiliated colleges) with a focus on aerospace and advanced manufacturing statewide. At the time of the grant award, some stipulations were made about how success would be measured.
A team of specialists, out of Spokane, and located at Spokane Community College was created to manage the flow of training development and job fulfillment through the state. Carol Weigand has been leading the group since that time.
Goals and measurement
The Air Washington Grant has built up the infrastructure of education statewide to build aerospace capacity in the following areas:
- Faculty hiring and development (at 11 community and technical colleges)
- Development of labs and purchase of training equipment in classrooms
- Curriculum development
- Navigators to help students to find a career pathway within the community college system
To date 3,806 people have been trained in the following areas:
- Aircraft Assembly
Exceeding the initial goal of 2,615 students that could enter careers in the aerospace industry. Air Washington has maintained a website and has also created a listing of certificates and degrees from the programs.
Stay tuned for future updates about the success and people behind Air Washington.