During the 2020 State of the State address by Governor Jay Inslee, Career Connect Washington and our partners were honored to be featured for our ongoing work on behalf of students. The governor was a catalyst for the Career Connect Washington movement from the beginning, and his support is unwavering. The work that is being done to connect Washington residents to career opportunities featured significantly in the speech.

I want to tell you a story about how we all achieved one of our greatest successes and how that charts a course as we look to tackle another big challenge. That success story is about Washington’s nation-leading, innovative, inclusive and life-changing Career Connect Learning initiative...

This involves business, labor, community colleges, universities, K-12, philanthropy, and local and state governments. It took each and every partnership to build a system of registered apprenticeships, job certifications and classroom education.

Like us, the governor is inspired by the stories of real Washington students who are launching great careers.

Ironworkers Local 86 is one of the many apprenticeship programs that expanded pathways to entry and attracted more students — and more diverse students — through Career Connect. One of these students is apprentice Robert Arce, who moved to Washington to make a better life for himself and his fiancée, leaving a gang environment behind. He was homeless for a time — at least six months — sleeping in his car. Robert received boots, tools, hands-on knowledge and experience that set him up for success. This experience, he said, has been everything to him and his family. Before the program, he had never used a drill or a hammer. Today, he’s two years into a four-year apprenticeship in Tukwila and looks forward to a better future for himself and his growing family. Thank you, Robert, for being here and sharing your story.

Another story comes out of Spokane. Olivia Perkins joined the Production and Manufacturing Academy to get exposure to hands-on welding. She wanted to create and sell her own metal artwork. Greater Spokane Incorporated paired with the academy to make this career-connected opportunity a reality. Olivia took an hour-and-a-half bus ride — each way — and then walked a mile and a half — each way — just to attend class. Because of her efforts, she received a full scholarship to Spokane Community College and will become a professional welder because of her academy experience. Congratulations to Olivia, who is also here with us today.

Stories like these show how targeted career launch programs provide opportunity to diverse populations who may not have had a chance before…. Our goal is nothing short of meaningful career training for anyone who wants it. We want to be able to welcome all people to the prosperity of Washington.

You can read the whole speech here, and you can learn more about Governor Inslee’s budget request including funding for Career Connect Washington here. Finally, don’t miss this great video about the work of Career Connect Washington and the need for skilled employees in every part of our economy.

This bipartisan, statewide partnership is making great careers available to people across Washington, and we are so grateful for the continued commitment to this work.

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