PREPARING FOR THE NEW AEROSPACE LANDSCAPE 18TH ANNUAL AEROSPACE CONFERENCE | SOARING TO SUCCESS BY JOHN BONNER Vice President of Corporate & Workforce Training / Everett Community College Like many of the 34 community and technical colleges in our state, over the past decade one of the key workforce challenges for Everett Community College (EvCC) has been to put in place current, industry-aligned programs to meet the needs of local employers. With your help the college developed a Mechatronics program in 2016. In 2017, the college launched the state’s first Advanced Avionics program in collaboration with key industry partners. Last year, our Aviation Maintenance school added its first evening training shift. These investments are having an impact in growing the pipeline of skilled workers. However, in the decade ahead the skills gap challenge will reach unprecedented dimensions. Consequently, the key challenge ahead is less about adapting education programs to technological changes (although that will continue to be necessary) and more about aligning partnerships to grow and diversify the workforce pipeline. THE CHALLENGE IS IMMENSE » » According to Washington Roundtable, about 740,000 job openings are expected in the state during the next five years. » » 70% of these jobs will require post-secondary credentials. » » Currently only 40% of those with high school diplomas attain post-secondary credentials by the time they are 26. » » The opportunity is compelling » » Although the economy is growing, there has been much written on the shrinking middle class and the social systems and conditions that impede access to opportunity. » » Although we enjoy a low unemployment rate in Washington, currently employed does not necessarily equate to living-wage or family-wage jobs, and many are working multiple jobs to make ends meet. » » We know from experience that those in lower skilled positions who are without a college credential are likely to be disproportionately impacted when an eventual economic downturn begins. » » Demographic data show a stark disparity – with poverty rates for adults and children significantly higher those without a college credential. THE BARRIERS ARE KNOWN Many of the key barriers to growing and diversifying the pipeline have been identified: 1) disjointed education systems (K-12, Community College, Universities, Apprenticeships) that do not work together seamlessly for students; 2) bias toward 4-year degrees and against the trades; 3) high cost of tuition for low-income students; 4) lack of awareness of the careers in aerospace and manufacturing; 5) insufficient internship and apprenticeship opportunities; and 6) general ineffectiveness at attracting low-income, students of color, women, and first generation college students into aerospace careers. THE PARTNERSHIPS EXIST Over the next decade, our collective work appears increasingly at the nexus of equity, talent development, and economic mobility. How can we better align our efforts to fill the pipeline by creating opportunities for all members of our state to choose and excel in education programs leading to high demand careers in our local economy? The good news is there is exciting work going on many fronts led by many organizations. Each of the us hold key parts of the solutions needed. We look forward to working alongside you to increase opportunity for economic mobility by developing the talent required for our citizens, employers, and communities to thrive. 44