The governor visited Lakewood late this afternoon to highlight success of Aerospace Joint Apprenticeships, including a new program opening at Tacoma’s Lincoln High School. 

With state funding from the legislature since 2007, this program seeks to match students with advanced manufacturing employers that face a shortage of skilled workers. The long-term training plan connects each student with part-time employment as an apprentice, while they complete their high school studies and an even learning lab one night per week.

Raquel Taijito, a sophomore at Stadium High School in Tacoma, is in her fourth Engineering and Design class, but wanted some hands-on experience.

“At this point, I wanted to figure out what I want to do in my future in engineering,” Taijito explains. She has been hired to apprentice at Tool Gauge and already has an experience female manager there as a mentor.

Tom Kachelmyer, a 14-year veteran of Pacific Machine Inc., where today’s showcase event was held, reports good success in finding new and future employees through formal apprenticeships, including the featured today, AJAC. Finding qualified employees is an increasing challenge to shops such as his.

State Department of Labor & Industries safety personnel work with the companies and their apprenticeship partners to relax work rule restrictions that would otherwise preclude any young workers from being in the industrial setting. 

More than 220 employers statewide have connected with AJAC, which also has classroom programs established in Yakima and elsewhere around the state. Aerospace, medical agriculture, seafoods are other career fields eligible for the employer apprenticeship efforts.