New bill seeks to create regional apprenticeship programs across Washington

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A proposed bill aims to establish apprenticeship programs in school districts across Washington state.

House Bill 1536 would create several programs unique to the state’s regions and industries, providing students a quick path to trade work in their community.

“Establishing apprenticeship programs gives more students, more options,” said Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, a sponsor of the bill. “It allows them to quickly embrace a career with pride and the knowledge that they are building the future infrastructure of our state.”

These apprenticeship programs would be managed through educational service districts (ESDs), which in Washington oversee local school districts when it comes to planning, working and buying equipment.

The reason for this is that regional programs would better match students with the needs of local businesses, according to the bill.

“This bill is necessary to provide students the training they need today for the potential job they’ll have tomorrow,” said Maycumber. “There are great jobs available in the trade sector. I’ve worked with union officials on this issue and they continue to emphasize the need for skilled trade workers. Before COVID hit, the Associated General Contractors of America estimated that 80 percent of contractors in our state were having difficulty finding qualified electricians, millwrights and iron workers, among others.”

The ESDs would be responsible for establishing two apprenticeship programs. For this, they would neet to meet with local stakeholders to identify industries best suited for programs, and would be responsible for coming up with the curriculum.

“We need to invest more in our career and technical education programs,” said Maycumber. “Not all jobs, careers and futures lie in a four-year degree from a university. It can’t just be a university or nothing. Many of our students don’t feel like they have much of a choice. But giving our students more options as they decide upon career choices will serve to benefit them in the long run, help local industries and employers hire a qualified work force, and allow for workers to stay in their local communities. It’s a win-win for students, employers and our communities.”