Aerospace training to double at Paine Field

EVERETT — More aspiring aerospace workers will be able to receive training at Paine Field come February.

That’s when an expansion and renovations at the Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center should be completed, allowing the center to double the number of students it can train, said Larry Cluphf, director of the center.

“We have the demand for it,” he said.

With the county’s largest employer, the Boeing Co., on a hiring spree, and the aerospace industry in a boom, the need for skilled aerospace workers is great. Boeing added more than 1,400 workers in Washington in June. Besides adding workers to deal with increases in jet production, the company also expects a large number of retirements as its workforce ages.

The aerospace training center has been open a little more than a year. It was established by the Aerospace Futures Alliance, with the help of Snohomish County. Edmonds Community College operates the center for the industry group.

The community college and county are ironing out a lease agreement, which will give the center an additional 8,966 square feet of space in the building it occupies. The center now uses about 15,340 square feet.

The expansion will require improvements to that section of the building to bring it up to code. The county will have to apply for a Community Economic Revitalization Board loan from the state of $500,000, which will be repaid over 10 years using lease revenues.

Cluphf expects the county will have the extra space ready for use in November. The center will spend a few more months renovating the new space, hopefully with the help of donations from the industry.

The center is offering courses in two shifts with plans to add a third shift over weekends in August. At that point, the training center will be able to accommodate 150 students. Certificate programs include aerospace manufacturing core certificate and aerospace assembly mechanic certificate. The center soon will begin offering an aerospace electrical assembly mechanic program as well.

Students who have completed the certificate programs have a good track record of getting hired at aerospace companies like Boeing. Nearly 85 percent of the center’s graduates who interviewed for aerospace jobs received offers, Cluphf said. Besides Boeing, eight other aerospace companies have hired graduates from the training center.

County executive Aaron Reardon said the training center’s expansion comes as no surprise.

“We continue to create high paying aerospace manufacturing jobs in Snohomish County,” he said. “People in Snohomish County can quickly get the training they need to land a good job with a growing business.”

The next round of classes at the center starts mid-August. For more information on course offerings, visit the training center’s website at washingtonaerospace.com or call 425-347-8928.

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