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Gov. Gregoire Announces Support for More Apprenticeship Programs

For Immediate Release: January 29, 2008

OLYMPIA – Governor Chris Gregoire today announced her support for a plan to add more apprenticeship programs for aerospace and technology workers in Washington.

The governor endorsed the plan in a room packed with hundreds at the International Aerospace Machinists (IAM) District Lodge 751 in south Seattle. Joining Gregoire in the announcement were local and national IAM leaders, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, as well as former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack.

“We must be frugal with this year’s budget, but this investment is about further improving the future of our state’s economy and apprenticeship programs are a critical component in providing a skilled workforce,” said Gregoire. “Today I am proud to announce my support for a plan to invest $3 million for apprenticeships in aerospace and new technology.” These funds are intended to develop curriculum and purchase equipment for new apprenticeship programs.

“During a recent trip to Spokane I heard from CEOs that one of their greatest challenges was finding skilled workers to help expand their aerospace businesses. That’s why I’m endorsing this apprenticeship program, to train people for those jobs,” said the governor.

“It is great to see Gov. Gregoire make investments in aerospace workers and the industry,” said Tom Wroblewski, Machinists 751 district president. “This will pay long term dividends for our competitive place in the world as we vie for these jobs in the global market.”

The aerospace industry is changing on a daily basis, further emphasizing the need for cutting edge technology to train workers. The apprenticeship program, if passed by the Legislature, will help in building and maintaining a strong workforce for the state’s growing aerospace industry and its suppliers.

House Speaker Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown expressed their support for the plan.

"A thriving aerospace industry is vital to Washington's economic future," said Chopp, "and apprenticeships are vital to a thriving aerospace industry. It's a win-win."

"Washington needs to know where the next generation of aerospace workers will come from," said Brown. "Apprenticeships allow students to earn while they learn, and encourages thousands of men and women to cultivate the needed skills that will put them on a solid career path."

The governor has been a strong supporter of apprenticeship programs. The first piece of legislation she signed into law required the use of apprentices on state public works’ projects. The governor was also one of the first governors in the nation to endorse “Helmets to Hardhats” to connect returning military veterans with apprenticeships.

As a result of these efforts, Washington state now has 14,500 men and women enrolled in apprenticeship programs—up from 8,500 in 2005.

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