The governor will steer about $3 million in federal funding to train up to 500 Washingtonians for careers in aerospace.
Gov. Chris Gregoire said the training should help the unemployed, veterans and low-income adults to develop skills needed by the state’s aerospace industry. The funding will
also ensure “our aerospace workers have the cutting-edge skills needed to design, build and maintain the aircraft of tomorrow — helping our 650 aerospace companies grow and create new jobs,” she said.
Gregoire announced the funding while at the Boeing Co.’s jet factory in Renton, where the company plans to add 1,200 workers over the next few years. Already this year, Boeing has increased its workforce in Washington by 1,941 people as it ramps up aircraft production in Renton and in Everett.
Despite Boeing’s hiring spree, there were roughly 228,000 people unemployed in Washington at the end of March. The governor opted to direct federal Workforce Investment Act dollars to help job seekers receive aerospace training and apply for aerospace jobs.
“I have directed the state Employment Security Department to engage with those looking for work and help them get training and apply for aerospace jobs,” Gregoire said. “We’ll especially reach out to returning veterans and low-income workers seeking a living-wage job.”
Roughly $700,000 will go to the aerospace training and research centers in Everett, Renton and Spokane to be used for tuition and fees and labs. About 135 students will be trained with that $700,000.
Another $900,000 will be used for training for industry-specified areas such as composites manufacturing, precision machining and electronics. The funds should train 175 students. The money will go do the different aerospace centers on a first-come, first-served basis.
The state will spend $300,000 to buy equipment for the Renton and Spokane training centers.
The governor directed $1 million for developing new training on topics requested by industry such as machine maintenance, quality assurance and fiber optics. Between 120 and 180 people will receive training in these areas.
Lastly, the governor allocated $100,000 for the Aerospace Scholars Program, which encourages high school students to pursue engineering degrees. The program. The funding will allow about 100 high school students to participate in distance learning and summer programs.
Boeing’s Ray Conner, vice president for supply chain management, welcomed the governor’s announcement on Tuesday.
“Our shared success depends on having skilled and talented people ready to step in and build not only the world’s leading jetliners, but also a future that will make us all proud,” Conner said. “These investments will fund training opportunities and allow for better alignment between business, our community and technical colleges.”
The amount of funding that will come directly to Washington Aerospace Training and Research Center in Everett hasn’t been determined yet, said Larry Cluphf, director for the center. More than 160 students have earned certificates from the center at Paine Field since it opened last summer.
Last Friday, the Everett training center announced that it had tuition vouchers to allow 80 people who are out of work to go through the center’s aerospace manufacturing core certificate program. The funding for those vouchers came from the county’s Workforce Development Council. By Tuesday afternoon, the aerospace center already had handed out all of the tuition vouchers, Cluphf said.