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John Wolcott, Editor
jwolcott@scbj.com
Dave Clark, Assistant Editor
dclark@scbj.com
Published: Friday, September 25, 2009

Creation of aerospace training center will help local industry to stay current and competitive

Edmonds Community College recently signed an agreement with the Aerospace Futures Alliance of Washington to establish a statewide aerospace training center at Paine Field, 3008 100th SW, Everett.
Such a program should help to bridge gaps in current training programs and help to turn out workers better trained to meet the needs of local industry.

Approximately 650 aerospace firms in Washington state are reliant on workers who possess manufacturing skills. Such a center would help to coordinate and facilitate training and assist in the preparation of this workforce as technology and materials change and improve.

Statewide, 120,000 workers are employed in the aerospace industry. It accounts for 7 percent of statewide employment. Edmonds Community College will work with Spokane Community College, Everett Community College, and other key educational partners across the state to coordinate the delivery of training.

Oversight is to be provided by the Aerospace Futures Alliance (AFA). That organization will help connect the center’s activities to current industry and advocate for additional resources as needed to aid in its success.

“The ability to respond to the economic needs of the day and build a stronger workforce, maintaining and growing high-paying jobs, is a community college strength,” said Edmonds Community College President Jack Oharah. “What’s new with this training center is how closely and quickly we’ll be working with partners and listening to industry to teach particular procedures and skills that are needed now.”

According to the operating agreement, the AFA is to work with Snohomish County to provide the facility. The college is responsible for supplying the people, equipment, and materials to fill it. Once these obligations are met, the first training could take place during late fall.

Similar training centers exist in other parts of the country. Last month, a group of more than 20 leaders toured a similar training center in Wichita, Kan. — the National Center for Aviation Training — to see how it connects with industry.

The National Center for Aviation Training was established by a similar collaborative effort of government, business, and education leaders.

To date that institution has received more than $49 million from federal, state, and county governments as well as from private industry to support the training, research and development, facilities, and equipment. The idea is to create a coordinated point of entry for aerospace training and advanced manufacturing that can keep the region competitive.

As aerospace is one of the top industries in Washington state, it makes sense that a similar cooperative effort should be made between those schools that train the workers and those that employ them. Aerospace firms seem satisfied with the alliance.

“It’s been the highest priority for the aerospace companies across the state to have a one-stop center that will keep us competitive across the country,” said Linda Lanham, Executive Director of the AFA. “We are very excited that this is the first step to ensuring that we have a solid statewide training program.”

The establishment of the aerospace training center is the culmination of ongoing work to advocate and secure funding for support of Washington’s aerospace industry by the AFA, key elected officials, and partners in Snohomish County including Everett Community College, the Workforce Development Council, and the Economic Development Council.


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