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Website builds bridge between school, success

Students wondering what a career in airplane maintenance pays and the education necessary to qualify for a job in that field can now easily find out on a Washington website.

Career Bridge – managed by Washington Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board – is a free, easily navigable site that offers information such as where educational programs are offered, completion rates, tuition costs and employability on a program-by-program basis.

The website comes at a time when tuition at Washington’s public universities has nearly doubled and student debt is greater than credit card debt nationwide. Going to college to explore career options is no longer as feasible as it was just a decade ago.

“What I would like to see is every school in Washington using Career Bridge, because it is a great resource,” said Marina Parr, Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board spokeswoman. “The really big difference between Career Bridge and other websites is we directly tie education programs to the labor market.”

The website recently won a National Innovation Award from the Council of State Governments, which called the website “a one-stop shop for career resources.”

The site also has a quiz to help users determine their interests and aptitudes.

“It’s a real consumer report,” Parr said. The recent report of one in five households nationwide carrying a student debt “is a reminder of why these types of resources are needed.”

In addition to traditional college programs, Career Bridge lists career options through apprenticeships, certificates and one-year programs. The site lists more than 5,000 education programs, any of which might make a big difference.

“Students who continue beyond high school even one year can make the difference between poverty and making a living wage,” said Parr.