January 13, 2020
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Legislative session kicks off with speed as 60-day clock begins ticking

The Legislature meets for the second half of its biennial session starting today. That means this session is "short" (60 days) and focused on adjustments to last year's budget.

Still, there are many challenges for employers in this session. Lawmakers held their first hearing today on how they will address the roughly $500 million shortfall in the transportation budget created by passage of Initiative 976.

Many of the issues from last year, including capital gains taxes, predictive scheduling, independent contractors and a low-carbon fuel standard, among many others, will be debated again this year. The Bellingham Herald wraps up some of the main themes of the session here.

AWB's Government Affairs team held a pre-session webinar this morning with the latest updates. Check out a recording of the webinar on our podcast channel. Just search "The AWB Podcast" wherever you download podcasts, or visit AWB's Soundcloud page.

Employers across the state rely on AWB's experienced Government Affairs team to represent them in Olympia, but AWB also works with business operators and employees to talk directly with lawmakers. One great chance to do that is at the annual AWB Legislative Day & Hill Climb on Jan. 28. Reserve your space now!

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Effective Workforce Education

Path to apprenticeships now starts at high school

By Nate Nehring, a Snohomish County Council member

A four-year university education can be valuable for some, but many could benefit from greater access to pathways into the trades. While many college graduates now work minimum wage jobs and are burdened with student debt, high-paying trades jobs with competitive benefits sit empty.

In Snohomish County, we are working proactively to increase access to family-wage careers. Over the last two years, we have built a coalition of representatives from labor, industry and education. Community leaders from these sectors have come together to talk about how we can work together to provide meaningful solutions to the problem of a workforce shortage. What began as a group of stakeholders around a table has resulted in the creation of the Regional Apprenticeship Pathways (RAP) Program, which is being hailed as a potential statewide model for workforce development.

As a result of in-depth discussions between sectors and site tours of existing workforce development programs, the concept of a pre-apprenticeship program within the high school setting was organically produced. There currently exists several state-certified apprenticeship programs for a variety of skilled trades, from carpenters to electricians to laborers. What has been lacking is a pipeline of students with the basic skills and confidence to pursue these apprenticeship programs. The average apprentice is in his or her late 20s before beginning a program, representing an entire lost decade of post-high school productivity. As a group, our goal has been to bridge that 10-year gap...

Read the full guest column in The (Everett) Herald