The Tacoma City Council recently approved additional funding for pre-apprenticeship opportunities in Pierce County.

As part of its mid-biennium budget adjustment in December, the City Council approved an additional $120,000 in funding for the Trade Occupations Opportunity Learning (TOOL) Center, a general construction pre-apprenticeship program housed and operated by Bates Technical College.

The money will fund an additional pre-apprenticeship cohort of 15 students, increasing the program’s annual graduation capacity from 45 to 60.

The TOOL Center began as a WorkForce Central initiative formed in partnership with Bates and the City of Tacoma to address a shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry. That need remains: according to WorkForce Central’s 2016 study of Pierce County’s key sectors, the construction industry projects annual growth of 3.6 percent through 2023.

 “We are grateful to the City of Tacoma and our wonderful partners at Bates for recognizing the value the TOOL Center adds to our community,” said Linda Nguyen, CEO of WorkForce Central. “Pre-apprenticeship programs are essential in preparing our workforce to meet the demands of our growing construction industry.”

With classes beginning every three months, the TOOL Center is a 12-week pre-apprenticeship program that teaches occupational standards across several trades occupations – plus workplace expectations and essential skills – and offers certifications in OSHA 10, CPR and First Aid, Flagging and Forklift.