Mark your calendar for Sept. 23.
That's when an aerospace career fair will be held in Lynnwood. The organizers say it's the first aerospace-centric job fair of its kind in Washington. They're hoping to attract between 3,000 and 5,000 job seekers.
"We really need to get out there and meet the industry's needs," said Mary Kaye Bredeson, director of Washington's Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Materials Manufacturing. The center, along with Richard Strand and Associates, is organizing the job fair.
Those needs are growing, thanks largely to the Boeing Co.
In the first six months of 2011, Boeing added 4,200 jobs in Washington state. The company expects a fair amount of workers to retire over the next five years while it also plans to boost aircraft production across its jet programs.
Boeing executives have said the company will hire "thousands" of workers over the next few years. Meeting Boeing's employment needs not only puts Washington's jobless to work but also helps the state make its case for keeping future Boeing jet programs here.
Last month, the company announced plans to upgrade its Renton-built 737. Boeing's chief executive, Jim McNerney, said the company hasn't decided yet where it will build the re-engined jet. Last week, Jim Albaugh, president of Boeing's commercial airplanes division, told Renton employees the company will make a decision in the next six to eight months, according to an internal Boeing newsletter sent Wednesday.
"We take a hard look at what makes the most sense for the customer and what makes the sense for the corporation ... and this place has an awful lot going for it," Albaugh said, according to the newsletter.
Whether Boeing's re-engined 737 will translate into more jobs in the Puget Sound region remains to be seen. In the meantime, the company will have several booths geared toward broad areas of interest such as composites, aircraft assembly or electronics at the September job fair.
But Boeing isn't the only aerospace company with employment needs in the Puget Sound region. Many of the company's suppliers are located in the region and will be expected to boost their production to meet Boeing's. Boeing suppliers doubly have a challenge when it comes to finding workers.
"Boeing is now starting to rob the supply chain," Bredeson said.
Dozens of local aerospace companies will participate in the job fair as they seek to replace employees that leave for jobs at Boeing as well as those needed to support production increases.
Despite the rising need for aerospace workers, figuring out how to land a job in the industry can be a challenge. WorkSource has held numerous workshops geared at helping people navigate the hiring process at Boeing.
But there are other paths into Boeing and its suppliers: short-term training at the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center in Everett; apprenticeships through the state's Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee; associate degree-type training at the community colleges. Many of those organizations will attend the job fair as well.
"We hope to set up many different workshops," Bredeson said.
Job seekers do not need to register to participate in this free event.
Washington Aerospace Job Opportunity and Career Expo: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 23, Lynnwood Convention Center, 3711 196th St. SW, Lynnwood
More info: www.wajoce.com
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