Students in South King County will soon have more opportunities to prepare for post-high school careers with the help of a $500,000 allocation for pre-apprenticeship training programs.
Of the funds from King County’s 2021-2022 budget, $250,000 will be distributed to Highline Career and Technical Education (CTE) and $250,000 to Federal Way Public Schools for pre-apprenticeship programs to train youth with hands-on experience in construction trades while providing access to high-paying jobs.
Similar to Washington’s Running Start program, where students simultaneously complete their final two years of high school while taking college classes in order to graduate with both their diploma and an associate’s degree, the pre-apprenticeship program allows students to graduate with their diploma and a trade industry certification.
State Rep. Jesse Johnson, a Federal Way native, said with the county’s funding approved, he will be working toward securing matching funds in the governor’s budget as well as additional grants through Career Connect Washington.
“We need to make sure that we have diverse pathways in curriculum and instruction for our students who are hands-on learners that want to go into the workforce right away,” he said.
Johnson said the need for a trade career training program in Federal Way was obvious when looking at the offerings of other surrounding cities. Especially when a state community assessment revealed nearby trade programs, such as Puget Sound Skills Center in Burien or Raisbeck Aviation High School in Tukwila, showed large Federal Way representation.
“But nothing right here in our backyard that students can access,” Johnson said.
While an official start date has not yet been determined, the program plans to serve 50-75 students in their junior and senior years, aiming to serve 100 students the following year, according to King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer.
The program will help link Federal Way Public Schools students to opportunities in trades such as construction, carpentry, electrical, painting, masonry, and more in the Federal Way area.
“The school district is grateful for King County Council member Pete von Reichbauer’s and Representative Jesse Johnson’s leadership to support programs that will build upon our scholars’ career readiness experiences in Federal Way Public Schools,” said FWPS Superintendent Dr. Campbell. “We’re still in the planning stages right now about what the program will look like, how many scholars it will serve, and how it will be fully funded. We look forward to our continued partnership to help bring this program into fruition.”
King County’s pre-apprenticeship program is modeled after the Marysville School District Regional Apprenticehip Pathways (RAP) program. Started in January, the RAP program allows students to gain first-hand experience in trades such as welding, carpentry, sheet metal, electrical and more.
“Year one of Regional Apprenticeship Pathways RAP was a success despite school closures due to COVID-19,” said Anne Carnell, assistant CTE director for Marysville Public Schools.
In June, seniors graduated with requisite skill sets for formal apprenticeships with RAP trades partners, she said. In following state health and safety requirements for public schools, RAP is currently serving 24 students across Snohomish County in a hybrid learning model.
On Nov. 17, the King County Council unanimously passed a $12.59 billion budget for 2021-22, providing funding for anti-racist programs, transformation of the criminal legal system, public health and a major investment in regional supportive housing.
Councilmember von Reichbauer focused several budget proposals on programs for youth in King County due to his “concern about the lack of job and recreation opportunities available for youth in Federal Way and Auburn, and the resulting increase in juvenile crime,” he said.
Johnson said opportunities like this program allow for greater entryways to living wage careers, and increase representation in trade industries that are looking to diversify their workforces.
“If we can increase these pathways and give [students] hope in earlier ages around what options they have, so they don’t feel like if they don’t get in to the UW or some four year college, [they know] that other options do exist where you can make good money,” he said.