The Tacoma City Council recently approved additional funding for pre-apprenticeship opportunities in Pierce County.

As part of its mid-biennium budget adjustment in December, the City Council approved an additional $120,000 in funding for the Trade Occupations Opportunity Learning (TOOL) Center, a general construction pre-apprenticeship program housed and operated by Bates Technical College.

The money will fund an additional pre-apprenticeship cohort of 15 students, increasing the program’s annual graduation capacity from 45 to 60.

The TOOL Center began as a WorkForce Central initiative formed in partnership with Bates and the City of Tacoma to address a shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry.

The TOOL Center began as a WorkForce Central initiative formed in partnership with Bates and the City of Tacoma to address a shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry. That need remains: according to WorkForce Central’s 2016 study of Pierce County’s key sectors, the construction industry projects annual growth of 3.6 percent through 2023.

“We are grateful to the City of Tacoma and our wonderful partners at Bates for recognizing the value the TOOL Center adds to our community,” said Linda Nguyen, CEO of WorkForce Central. “Pre-apprenticeship programs are essential in preparing our workforce to meet the demands of our growing construction industry.”

With classes beginning every three months, the TOOL Center is a 12-week pre-apprenticeship program that teaches occupational standards across several trades occupations – plus workplace expectations and essential skills – and offers certifications in OSHA 10, CPR and First Aid, Flagging and Forklift.

Participants must be 18 years of age or older, possess a high-school diploma or GED, and pass a drug screen.

It is an ideal program for young adults and underemployed Pierce County residents to gain the credentials they need to enter a family-wage career.

It is an ideal program for young adults and underemployed Pierce County residents to gain the credentials they need to enter a family-wage career. According to recent data, the average wage for construction workers in Pierce County is $57,138 – well above the average wage of $48,604 for all industries in the county.

Participants in Pierce County’s Career Connected Learning partnership – convened by WorkForce Central on behalf of the Pierce County Workforce Development Council, and funded by a grant through the Career Connect Washington initiative – may also be recruited to participate in the TOOL Center program.

For more information on the TOOL Center, contact Kwanna Wise, TOOL Center Coordinator, at kwise@bates.ctc.edu, or Brandon Rogers, Assistant Vice President and Executive Dean of South Campus, at brogers@bates.ctc.edu.

WorkForce Central strengthens the Pierce County economy by identifying skill gaps between jobseekers and employment opportunities, fostering data-driven decision making, and connecting workforce development partners into a cohesive, collaborative and effective network.

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