Washington leaders announce $2.7 million federal grant to increase apprenticeship opportunities

Hundreds of Washington workers will have opportunities for job-based apprenticeships, thanks to a new $2.7 million federal grant the state will receive over the next 18 months. Washington state and federal leaders announced today that the U.S. Department of Labor has chosen Washington as one of 37 grantees to help grow and diversify apprenticeships around the country.
 
“This important federal investment will provide more Washingtonians with the opportunity to enter in-demand professions in fast-growing sectors of our state economy,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “I appreciate the support that President Obama, Secretary Perez and members of the Washington Congressional Delegation have provided toward expanding apprenticeship opportunities in our state.”
 
“These investments in apprenticeships will help Washington state workers and businesses compete for and win the high-skill, high-wage jobs of the 21st century global economy,” said Sen. Patty Murray, the ranking member of the Senate Labor Committee, and a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. “I am very proud to have pushed to secure these investments, and will keep fighting to make sure investments and opportunities like these can reach even more students, workers, and businesses.”
 
“We need more skilled manufacturing workers and health care workers in Washington. The state and Governor Inslee winning this federal grant means Washington companies will be more successful because they will have a better trained workforce,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, who has advocated for expanded apprenticeship programs on the federal level.
 
A bipartisan group in the Washington House Delegation also threw their support behind Washington’s grant application, in a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor last month.
 
Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) will oversee the state’s grant. The agency expects to register 600 new apprentices in the areas of health care, education, construction industries, and advanced manufacturing. The effort, called Project RAISE (Registered Apprenticeship Initiative for System Expansion), will target women, veterans, youth, low-income individuals, people with disabilities and people of color.
 
The funds are part of an Obama Administration initiative called ApprenticeshipUSA. It involves more than $90 million in grants to increase access to apprenticeships.
 
Under Project RAISE, the state will work with various partners to expand apprenticeships, develop a high school-based manufacturing program at select schools, and increase industry demand in rural health care networks. It will also allow L&I to improve its tracking of growth and success of youth apprenticeships.
 
Partners involved in Project RAISE include the Community and Migrant Health Care centers of Washington, State Board for Community & Technical College’s 10 Centers of Excellence, Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, and Washington State Labor Council.
 
L&I filed for the grant based on the need to help more people find and keep jobs. The agency’s Apprenticeship Program helps employer and employee groups develop and maintain on-the-job training programs. There are more than 12,000 active apprentices participating in programs across the state.
 
“We’ll use these funds to make a real difference for Washington workers,” said Joel Sacks, L&I director. “Through Project RAISE we will recruit new employers, promote the value of apprenticeships, and help more workers find and keep self-sufficient jobs.”
 
The grant will also fund improved web resources with the state Employment Security Department. A team of first responders will also be available to respond to the increased business apprenticeship inquiries as a result of the initiative.

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