July 11, 2018

Career-connected learning takes the stage as Workforce Board visits AWB

By: Brian Mittge   Comments: 0
Perry England, chair of the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, laughs with AWB Vice President, Government Affairs, Gary Chandler, and Eleni Papadakis, executive director of the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, as the board meets in AWB's conference room on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. (Photo: Brian Mittge/AWB)
Employers can shape the future of workforce development in Washington -- but they need to be engaged.

That was a major message Wednesday as the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board met at AWB. It was a day of discussion about career-connected learning, as this policy board talked about how to ensure that students in middle and high school learn about the wide variety of jobs open to them in the years ahead -- and have effective training to prepare for those jobs. 

"With high demand for a trained and skilled workforce, it's important for businesses to engage with state partners who can help train and provide that workforce," said Amy Anderson, AWB's government affairs director for education and workforce development. 

Anderson urges employers to contact the workforce board to get connected. They can also get in touch directly with her to learn more about how to engage on workforce development issues through AWB.

Or they can also become directly involved with their local workforce development council. There are 12 of these locally focused groups around the state. (Click here
Washington has 12 workforce development council regions. Businesses are a key voice in these councils, which are also resources for businesses to find the trained, skilled workers they need. 
for information on how to find and talk with your local council.)

This is not just a practical issue -- it's a personal issue for Gary Chandler, AWB vice president, government affairs, who is one of nine members on the workforce board. 

Chandler described young people in his home town of Moses Lake whose futures could be changed dramatically for the better -- if they are able to find ways to learn early on about the variety of high-paying jobs open to them -- and if they can access the right training to prepare them for those jobs. 

"Your next workforce is sitting in eighth, ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade right now," Chandler said. "How do we start engaging them, especially when they're juniors and seniors."

He discussed the importance of apprenticeships, as well as externships (which bring educators into businesses to help them better understand how to shape education around the realities of the workplace.)

"We need to get teachers and counselors into businesses," Chandler said.

David Postman, chief of staff for Gov. Jay Inslee, attended the meeting. He said that workforce development is a point of bipartisan agreement. He said the governor will continue to support career-connected learning in the upcoming budget-writing legislative session.

"We need a dynamic system," Postman said. "If we're creating a system just for the economy we can see before us, we miss it."