Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined a Washington state aerospace workforce training leader for a Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee roundtable discussion on strengthening the private/public partnerships that can equip workers with the skills they need for 21st century jobs in a competitive global economy.
Laura Hopkins, Executive Director of the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC), joined Senator Cantwell and other Senators along with workforce development leaders from around the country at the roundtable. The roundtable examined local perspectives on job creation, the best ways to provide workers with job skills, and how to continue economic growth.
"I'd like to thank Laura Hopkins for traveling all the way from Washington state to discuss how workforce development can strengthen our economy," said Cantwell. "Laura's success in recruiting and training another generation of aerospace workers in Washington state is a prime example of how we can support new job opportunities in America. As we face a more competitive global marketplace, it's more important than ever that we equip our workers with the right skills to land quality jobs."
"It is critical to have our political leaders listening to the workforce initiatives that are already working," said Laura Hopkins, Executive Director of AJAC. "Washington State made the bold choice to invest in training for its manufacturing sector. To be leaders in this arena required a strategic initiative that provided for its future. The best investment is not to create something from scratch, but to build on those activities that are already working."
AJAC is a non-profit organization that oversees Washington state registered aerospace and advanced manufacturing apprenticeship programs in the state. AJAC has also built a network of employers from across the state participating in their programs. The group was created to address the need for skilled workers in the aerospace industry due to an increase in worker retirements. Some 21,000 new workers are needed over the next decade in the state, according to a report by the Washington Council on Aerospace.
Cantwell has long supported AJAC's efforts to build viable programs that equip workers with the skills for aerospace jobs. AJAC is a key partner in the Air Washington aerospace training project led by Spokane Community College. Cantwell helped secure a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for Air Washington that provides the capacity to train more than 2,600 workers statewide with the skills needed by Washington state's 650 aerospace employers.