November 13, 2017
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AWB joins Gov. Inslee for trip to Switzerland to learn about career-connected education

Workforce education is a crucial challenge for educators, employers and communities looking to ensure opportunity and prosperity in the years ahead.

To help learn about new ways of connecting students with career opportunities, AWB President Kris Johnson joined Gov. Jay Inslee along with representatives from businesses, higher education and a number of other state leaders last week in a trip to Switzerland to learn about the country's strong and successful apprenticeship programs. KUOW broadcast this story about the trip today, noting that 70 percent of Swiss students are in a training program of some type, which can launch them into a career or higher education.

"The feedback AWB heard on our recent manufacturing bus tour only reinforced the need to do a better job of equipping young people for careers in manufacturing and providing them with first-hand experiences in their preferred career field," Johnson said.

The trip included stops in Bern and Zurich. The group of 45 delegates included employers, academic leaders and government officials learning about Switzerland’s highly regarded apprenticeship and vocational learning system (a program aimed at training 16-year-olds and up for careers). The big-picture goal is to find specific ways to improve Washington’s career pathways. The governor's office wrote about the trip here.

With the Swiss system, young apprentices can easily shift career paths or seek higher education after earning their initial training diploma. That "permeability" is a major advantage of the Swiss system, said Michael Meotti, executive director of the Washington Student Achievement Council.

“In the US, people who don’t know what they want to do at age 16, 17 or 18 tend to get left behind,” Meotti said in a story published by the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. “The Swiss system lets you do what works for you at that point in your life, and change gears later on if you want to.”

A major goal of the trip is to create a cohesive system in Washington state to give students apprenticeship opportunities in industries, including health care and advanced manufacturing, Inslee's office said. A state task force will deliver a report in January on next steps using what was learned during this trip.

For more on education and workforce training issues, contact AWB Government Affairs Director Amy Anderson at 360.943.1600.

(Photo: AWB President Kris Johnson with Carolyn King, CEO of Washington STEM; Scott Morris, CEO of Avista, and Ben Bagherpour, VP of Operations at SEH America Inc., all part of a large delegation of Washington leaders during their trip to Switzerland last week to study workforce education and the Swiss apprenticeship model.)

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