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February 5, 2013 at 12:02pm

Pierce County ready to train aerospace workers

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FROM THE TACOMA-PIERCE COUNTY EDB...
BOEING, and the rest of the aerospace cluster, will need many thousands of new workers in the Puget Sound region over the next few years. Not only will the manufacture of the 737 MAX and other aircraft require more than 20,000 workers, but the aerospace giant also will have to replace about half of its existing workforce who will become eligible for retirement in the next five to seven years. In turn, Boeing's increased production will generate a demand for workers from aerospace suppliers in the Puget Sound region.

To help provide these next-generation workers, Tacoma-Pierce County leaders are working with educators from high schools, community colleges and state universities to build a highly trained workforce.

Doing so, they believe, will ensure the aerospace industry in the Pacific Northwest continues to grow."Pierce County business and education leaders are champions of an educated workforce," says EDB President Bruce Kendall. "In aerospace and other cutting-edge industries education is our greatest competitive advantage. Actions are backing up these words as great strides are being made to ensure that market-focused training programs are in place and accessible to large and small aerospace companies and individuals seeking career opportunities."

Tacoma-Pierce County officials say local colleges are working hard to train qualified workers in composites, aerospace engineering, manufacturing and line/machinist work to meet this demand. Indeed, they add, enrollment has been steadily increasing and graduates are moving quickly into the workforce.

Here's a look at what some local schools offer:

* Pierce County Skills Centeroffers college training and certification for aviation maintenance technicians and aerospace composite technicians.

* Clover Park Technical College offers college training and certification for aviation maintenance technicians and airframe maintenance technicians.

* Bates Technical College offers college-level training and certification in machining, welding and composites.

* The Manufacturing Academy offers a nine-week, 35-credit program that is approved, taught and designed by local manufacturers and industry professionals.

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