A statewide consortium of 11 community and technical colleges designed to train aerospace workers is getting accolades from the U.S. Labor Department.
Air Washington, administered by Spokane Community College, was designated last week as an "exemplary workforce training program" by the federal agency. The collaborative effort received a three-year, $20 million Labor Department grant and has developed open access curriculum and training materials to help promote continued affordable workforce development.
As of last fall, the consortium already had trained 2,600 aerospace workers on the various campuses. Students receive domestic and international certification, which many aerospace employers require, including the European Aviation Safety Agency’s B-1 certification, and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s Airframe and Power Plant certification.
Aerospace employers across Washington state are projecting a demand for 21,000 new workers over the next decade, according to the consortium. It's also a key industry nationally, with about 500,000 scientific and technical jobs and the largest trade surplus of any domestic manufacturing industry: $118.5 billion in export sales in 2012 with a positive trade balance of $70.5 billion, according to federal figures.