Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee
Manufacturing isn’t considered a “sexy” profession. After all, there are no crime-solving welders on TV. But the demand for skilled manufacturing is stronger than ever.
The nonprofit Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, known as AJAC, was formed in 2008 to close the skills gap in the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries. Washington state will have 740,000 projected job openings during the next five years. Fully 70% of those will require a post-secondary degree, certificate or training. However, only 52% of adults in the state earn a post-secondary credential by the time they are 26.
In response, AJAC has implemented 10 high-growth, in-demand apprenticeship occupations across the state. It serves approximately 400 apprentices per year at almost 300 companies and partners with 12 community colleges.
Eight years ago, AJAC launched the Manufacturing Academy to offer a career pathway into the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries. In 2017, under Demetria “Lynn” Strickland, who has been executive director five years, it began offering youth apprenticeships for high school students and now partners with 15 school districts across the state. Youths can earn up to 15 college credits, gain more than 2,000 hours of training and earn up to $28,000.
Manufacturing is big business in Washington state. The sector accounts for more than 11% of the state’s total economic output. Average annual compensation is almost $90,000 per year.
Orion Industries has worked with more than 2,300 people in its training programs and placed almost 1,000 individuals into new careers. Last year, it provided paid on-the-job training to 433 people and placed 139 into living-wage jobs, with a retention rate of 84%. Ninety-six percent of people served by the organization were living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, and 62% have a disability. Orion, founded in 1957, says 84 percent of people that have completed company training programs have found permanent jobs. Orion is now the 13th-largest aerospace employer in the state, with average annual revenue growth of 20% the past decade.
Trillium Employment Services
Launched in 1983 as a project of the University of Oregon, Trillium has grown to 82 employees, serving 570 people with disabilities in King, Pierce, Clark and Kitsap counties. Today, 378 of Trillium’s clients are employed in roughly 350 businesses across Washington state. Eighty-five percent of the people Trillium placed in jobs in 2016 were still employed at the same company a year later. Some clients have been working in their positions for decades. Trillium is growing about 9% per year and has placed people in jobs at major companies, including Microsoft Corp., Boeing Co., Costco Corp. and Starbucks Corp.