Aerospace is big business in the state of Washington, with more than 600 aerospace-related businesses currently residing there. To ensure a sufficient influx of quality, trained workers, new grants are coming to community and technical colleges in order to provide necessary training as quickly as possible. Funding will come from both state and federal sources, with millions of dollars coming to colleges across the state. The additional money will be a boon to the aerospace industry in Washington, as well as institutes of higher education supplying the training.
Federal Funding Distributed to Washington Technical College
The Obama Administration offers the first grant for aerospace training to Renton Technical College in Renton, Washington. According to a report in the Renton Reporter, the $2.1 million grant was a portion of the funds awarded to the Spokane Community College system through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grants program, or TAACCCT grants. These grants are part of the workforce development plan created by the White House to help displaced workers get the training they need to find new lines of work. Community Colleges of Spokane were given $20 million for this purpose, according to the U.S. Department of Education website.
This video offers a look at the aerospace program in the District of Columbia Community College.
The Air Washington Consortium
A portion of the Spokane funds was given to Renton as a part of the Air Washington consortium that includes 12 community and technical colleges and focuses on training for aerospace jobs in the state based on current and verified local industry needs. Renton Technical College was chosen for this grant funding by the consortium because the school offers training in precision machining and aircraft assembly. Other schools included in the consortium are:
- Spokane Community College
- Big Bend Community College
- Skagit Valley College
- Clover Park Technical College
- South Seattle Community College
- Edmonds Community College
- Wenatchee Valley College
- The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee
- Everett Community College
- The Center for Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Materials Manufacturing
Many of the schools listed in this consortium have also been recent recipients of state funding offered by the Government Investment in Aerospace program. With additional funding coming in from both state and federal sources, these schools are in a prime position to beef up their aerospace training and feed a hungry local industry.
“The Department of Labor grant provides a tremendous boost to the expansion of aerospace training at Renton Technical College,” Steve Hanson, president of RTC, told the Reporter. “As a result of this funding, RTC is now positioned to meet the rapidly growing need for skilled workers in the aerospace industry.”
The primary areas of focus for the federal grant, at Renton and other schools across the state, will include the following critical areas, according to a press release at Avionics Intelligence:
- Aircraft Maintenance
- Aircraft Assembly
- Advanced Manufacturing
- AS9100 Training
“To continue to lead the world in aviation, Washingtonians need the most up-to-date knowledge and training,” Representative Jay Inslee (WA-01) stated in the press release. “Our economic future is reliant on having the skilled workforce that will continue to provide the world with the best planes at the best price. This grant is just one investment in that economic future.”
This video offers a look at the aviation programs available in California's community colleges.
State Funding Offered to 13 Washington Schools
Renton Technical College is not the only school benefiting from additional funding for its aerospace program. On a state level, $1.58 million will be awarded to 13 more Washington community colleges as part of the Governor’s Investment in Aerospace (GIA). These grants were also designed to assist community and technical colleges across Washington provide much-needed training in the aerospace industry, according to a report at the Auburn Reporter. The funding will come from a combination of Workforce Investment Act funds and state aerospace training funds.
Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds are distributed at the discretion of Governor Chris Gregoire for the state of Washington. In response to the availability of these funds, community and technical colleges across the state came together in a collaboration known as the Aerospace Consortium for Employment, or ACE. The primary mission of the collaboration is to provide urgent workforce training for the aerospace industry with short-term training in a wide range of related jobs, including:
- Precision machining
- Machine maintenance
- Fiber optics
- Quality assurance and inspection
With these positions covered through community college training programs, the aerospace industry will be able to grow throughout the state of Washington unhindered. This is especially important with a recent announcement from Boeing about their recent winning bid to build the next generation air refueling tanker for the United States Air Force.
GIA Grant Recipients
According to the Tacoma Daily Index, schools slated to receive state funding from the GIA grant include:
- Bates Technical College in Tacoma
- Bellingham Technical College in Bellingham
- Columbia Basin College in Pasco
- Everett Community College in Everett
- Green River Community College in Auburn
- Lake Washington Institute of Technology in Kirkland
- Olympic College in Bremerton
- Shoreline Community College in Shoreline
- South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia
- South Seattle Community College in Seattle
- Yakima Valley Community College in Yakima
- Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood
- Spokane Community College in Spokane
Fund distribution varied among the schools, based on need and ability to provide training. Most of the funding is expected to go to equipment purchases, additional faculty, and the development of new aerospace training programs.
Community colleges have historically served the purpose of providing training for local industries. These additional monies for aerospace training prove that community and technical colleges continue to fulfill their primary responsibility in supporting local industries and economies.
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