Students inspect an engine during class at Everett Community College’s Aviation Maintenance Technician School. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Students inspect an engine during class at Everett Community College’s Aviation Maintenance Technician School. (Olivia Vanni / Herald file)

Study: A smarter workforce is needed to win Boeing 797

To remain an aerospace powerhouse, Washington needs to boost its investment in education.

EVERETT — If Washington wants to retain its standing as an aerospace powerhouse, it should consider boosting investment in K-12 education, technical programs and colleges and universities throughout the state, according to a new report from the Choose Washington New Middle-Market Airplane Council.

The council, an alliance of elected officials and business and union leaders, hopes to convince Chicago-based Boeing Co. to build its next passenger airplane model in Washington.

The latest report, “Aerospace Workforce Development; Strategy and Recommendations,” offers a score of suggestions to increase the number of aerospace workers through education and training opportunities.

The council is sharing the report with private and public leaders for consideration during the upcoming legislative session.

Boeing’s so-called middle-market airplane, informally dubbed the 797, would fit somewhere between the largest 737 and the smallest 787, filling a niche left by the discontinuation of the Renton-built 757. The Boeing board of directors has not yet given the project the go-ahead, but state leaders continue to push their case for building it in Washington.

Analysts expect Boeing to make a decision this year or next, according to the council.

The aerospace giant hasn’t indicated what criteria it might use to determine if and where to build the new plane, but ever since the company located a 787 assembly line in South Carolina, leaders here have been nervous about losing out.

While the state can boast “the largest concentration of experienced aerospace and advanced manufacturing workers in the world — competition for this talent is fierce,” the report says. Washington also faces “looming retirement and gaps in the supply of workers,” factors that could affect the state’s standing in the eyes of Boeing.

“Washington’s continued leadership in aerospace — and many other sectors — depends on having the top skills and talent available to meet current and future employer needs,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a prepared statement.

“Collaborative strategies, such as those outlined by the NMA Council, alongside investments in career-connected education and training programs, will enable every Washingtonian to participate fully in the economy and every Washington company to compete successfully around the world,” Inslee said.

The report follows a separate, independent aerospace study, which the council released in June.

That study, the “Aerospace Competitiveness Economics Study,” measured key factors such as electricity costs, deep-water ports and private investment in research and development — all of which received high marks from the author, Richard Aboulafia, one of the world’s best-known aerospace industry analysts. His firm, the Teal Group, prepared the independent study.

The Aboulafia report found that Washington was the most competitive state by a healthy margin for aerospace development, followed by Ohio, North Carolina, Kansas and Colorado.

However, it pointed to two areas in which the state could improve: infrastructure, roads and more roads, and education.

Aboulafia told state leaders that those issues are easy to address.

As part of an apparent response to the education issue, the council assembled 25 education, labor, business and political leaders, many with Snohomish County ties, to review K-12 instruction, apprenticeship programs, worker training and college and university aerospace programs.

Participants included David Beyer, president of Everett Community College; Dana Riley Black, executive director of STEM programs at Everett Public Schools; and Mary Kaye Bredeson, executive director of the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing, housed at Everett Community College.

Beyer co-led the study with Chelsea Orvella, legislative director for the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA).

Beyer called the report “a comprehensive effort” aimed at informing private and political leaders of the need to improve the pipeline for aerospace and skilled workers.

Improving the education sector so that it continues to “thrive and grow and be inclusive” is key, Beyer said, “not only for entry-level workers and young people who come through the pipeline but also existing workers … to make sure their skills are up-to-date.”

Among the report’s recommendations:

• Expand and inspire greater interest in aerospace careers at the K-12 level through industry tours, company classroom visits and support of Core Plus, a two-year curriculum that prepares high school students for college and entry-level manufacturing jobs.

• Modernize and increase student enrollment at aerospace community and technical college programs and upgrade the equipment students train on. (A state grant recently allowed Everett Community College to add a second shift at its Aviation Maintenance Technician School, doubling enrollment.)

• Increase apprenticeship opportunities through greater access to on-the-job training for students throughout the state, especially in aerospace.

• Expand research and development and four-year degree programs at universities around the state.

• Help existing aerospace workers acquire additional skills through continuing education and training programs.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

Washington’s aerospace supercluster

• 136,100 skilled aerospace workers.

• 714 commercial aircraft produced in 2017.

• Aerospace engineers per 1,000 jobs: Washington, 2.8; Alabama, 2.3; Kansas, 1.7; Maryland, 1.2; U.S. average, 0.5.

Source: Choose Washington New Mid-Market Airplane Council

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Business

Reed Macdonald, magniX CEO. Photo: magniX
Everett-based magniX appoints longtime aerospace exec as new CEO

Reed Macdonald will take the helm at a pivotal time for the company that builds electric motors for airplanes.

People walk along a newly constructed bridge at the Big Four Ice Caves hike along the Mountain Loop Highway in Snohomish County, Washington on Wednesday, July 19, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Check out the best tourist attractions in Snohomish County

Here’s a taste of what to do and see in Snohomish County, from shopping to sky diving.

People walk out of the Columbia Clearance Store at Seattle Premium Outlets on Thursday, April 25, 2024 in Quil Ceda Village, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Head to Tulalip for retail recreation at Seattle Premium Outlets

The outlet mall has over 130 shops. You might even bring home a furry friend.

Brandon Baker, deputy director for the Port of Edmonds, shows off the port's new logo. Credit: Port of Edmonds
A new logo sets sail for the Port of Edmonds

Port officials say after 30 years it was time for a new look

Penny Clark, owner of Travel Time of Everett Inc., at her home office on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
In a changing industry, travel agents ‘so busy’ navigating modern travel

While online travel tools are everywhere, travel advisers still prove useful — and popular, says Penny Clark, of Travel Time in Arlington.

Travis Furlanic shows the fluorescent properties of sulfur tuft mushrooms during a Whidbey Wild Mushroom Tour at Tilth Farmers Market on Saturday, April 27, 2024 in Langley, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
On Whidbey Island, local fungi forager offers educational mushroom tours

Every spring and fall, Travis Furlanic guides groups through county parks. His priority, he said, is education.

ZeroAvia founder and CEO Val Mifthakof, left, shows Gov. Jay Inslee a hydrogen-powered motor during an event at ZeroAvia’s new Everett facility on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, near Paine Field in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
ZeroAvia’s new Everett center ‘a huge step in decarbonizing’ aviation

The British-American company, which is developing hydrogen-electric powered aircraft, expects one day to employ hundreds at the site.

Allan and Frances Peterson, a woodworker and artist respectively, stand in the door of the old horse stable they turned into Milkwood on Sunday, March 31, 2024, in Index, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Old horse stall in Index is mini art gallery in the boonies

Frances and Allan Peterson showcase their art. And where else you can buy a souvenir Index pillow or dish towel?

Everett
Red Robin to pay $600K for harassment at Everett location

A consent decree approved Friday settles sexual harassment and retaliation claims by four victims against the restaurant chain.

magniX employees and staff have moved into the company's new 40,000 square foot office on Seaway Boulevard on Monday, Jan. 18, 2020 in Everett, Washington. magniX consolidated all of its Australia and Redmond operations under one roof to be home to the global headquarters, engineering, manufacturing and testing of its electric propulsion systems.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Harbour Air plans to buy 50 electric motors from Everett company magniX

One of the largest seaplane airlines in the world plans to retrofit its fleet with the Everett-built electric propulsion system.

Simreet Dhaliwal speaks after winning during the 2024 Snohomish County Emerging Leaders Awards Presentation on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Simreet Dhaliwal wins The Herald’s 2024 Emerging Leaders Award

Dhaliwal, an economic development and tourism specialist, was one of 12 finalists for the award celebrating young leaders in Snohomish County.

Lynnwood
New Jersey company acquires Lynnwood Land Rover dealership

Land Rover Seattle, now Land Rover Lynnwood, has been purchased by Holman, a 100-year-old company.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.