New tool helps aerospace companies find workers

EVERETT — Aerospace and manufacturing companies have an easier way to find skilled Washington workers: an online tool that matches training-program graduates with companies’ needs.

The demand for aerospace workers remains high as both the Boeing Co. and Airbus ramp up jet production. Thousands of aerospace workers also will be eligible within a few years for retirement, putting even more pressure on companies to find qualified employees.

In recent years, the state of Washington has added a variety of aerospace and manufacturing training programs to meet industry needs. Companies can use the online tool, created by the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing, to search for graduates with specific skill sets, such as backgrounds in composites, electronics or precision machining.

The Center of Excellence is based at Everett Community College and has the goal of being a one-stop resource center for the industry’s education and training needs.

“The goal of the system is to enable faster hiring of skilled labor in these industry areas,” said Mary Kaye Bredeson, executive director of the center.

The website lists graduates from 18 of Washington state’s community colleges, in nine aerospace-related fields. Employers are encouraged to selected the field they’re interested in to find a local program. From there, they can contact the program’s supervisor for detailed information about students who are graduating soon or to schedule interviews with students.

It is expected that more of Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges will post program listings on the website over time.

Short-term training programs, such as the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center, have been highly successful in placing graduates with aerospace employers in the region. Edmonds Community College oversees the training center, which is at Paine Field. About 75 percent of graduates have found aerospace jobs.

At the end of October, the state of Washington had 96,900 people employed in the aerospace industry. That’s up 7,500 aerospace workers from October 2011.

Herald reporter Michelle Dunlop: mdunlop@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3454.

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