Community and technical colleges can give students a head start on pursuing their dream career. Green River College (GRC) and Shoreline Community College (SCC) are two examples of local colleges that help Core Plus Aerospace graduates further advance their manufacturing skills and find careers. And both colleges are seeing growing interest from employers seeking to hire their students.
“Companies email me looking for workers and students for paid internships that can turn into full-time employment,” said Wanda Waldrop, career/student navigator at SCC. “Manufacturing skills are in high demand and people who gain those skills, the earlier the better, will benefit greatly in their careers. It’s the wave of the future.”
Students interested in mechatronics or machining have opportunities to pursue an associate degree or various certificates at SCC, all of which build on the foundation concepts delivered via the Core Plus Aerospace high school curriculum. These credentials open doors to careers as an industrial maintenance mechanic, robotics technician, and more. The Manufacturing Department at SCC provides hands-on training with innovative math learning support to help students gain immediate job skills.
Similarly, Green River College’s Machining and Mechatronics Technology Program is designed to meet the needs of those entering the advanced manufacturing workforce, offering a two-year associate of applied science degree as well as multiple certificates of proficiency that can be completed in one year and offer a clear sign to employers that students are labor market ready.
“We enjoy seeing our students get jobs in the real world,” said David Schaafsma, mechatronics instructor at GRC. “There is a tremendous amount of excitement around the manufacturing industry right now. We’re helping students pursue a career path that’s incredibly in demand and pays well. There is a seat for everyone to find something they enjoy in the industrial world.”
GRC, SCC, and Washington’s other community and technical colleges offer more than 40 programs and credentials that build on foundational manufacturing skills developed through Core Plus Aerospace programs at high schools and skills centers across the state.
“Core Plus Aerospace students are the best because they already know what they like, they learned it in high school,” Wanda said. “Knowing what you want to do is huge.”
With 265,000 manufacturing jobs in Washington state that offer an average annual salary of $96,000, David and Wanda hope to raise awareness about the industry, so more students take an interest in advanced manufacturing and see it as an exciting career path. They also encourage students to explore their interests by joining clubs, taking manufacturing courses in high school, and touring a college campus or auditing a class.
“Really explore manufacturing, find what you love, and go for it,” Wanda said. “Our students change the world.”