Spotlight: Community and Technical Colleges Offer Responsive, Affordable Career Preparation

A student welding with trees in the background.
Photo courtesy of – Sarah Chandler, Lake Washington Institute of Technology

Preparing students for successful in-demand careers is central to what Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges (CTCs) do.

“CTCs are working to be even more responsive to the students and industries in their community,” said Marie Bruin, Director, Workforce Education at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. “CTCs are local, affordable and are informed by industry advisory boards. Students get the skills and resources they need to hit the ground running when they complete their degree or certificate.”

Tabitha Anderson was one of those students. A recent graduate from Green River College, Tabitha completed Running Start in high school and got a jump start in her career at Boeing after graduating. Tabitha joins Mohamed Tandia and Mylo Lang, Boeing employees and recent CTC grads as they build their advanced manufacturing skills and advance their careers.

Across Washington state there are more than 3,100 students enrolled in 21 partner community and technical colleges that have more than 105 aligned academic programs that build on the skills that students learn in Core Plus Aerospace.

A student using a machine and buttons and controls.
Photo courtesy of Yakima Valley College.

“Core Plus Aerospace really exposes students to manufacturing programs in high school,” said Genevieve Howard, Policy Associate, Workforce Education at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. “It helps students see what a career in manufacturing can look like, that they can continue to build their skills set, and have a family-wage career. This career exploration during high school is critical.”

CTCs are focusing on outreach to underrepresented communities, including women and people of color, to diversify the workforce. CTCs are also affordable for students looking to build their skills, train for a new career, advance their career, or complete a bachelor’s degree in high-demand fields. Students can use the Washington College Grant, one of the most generous financial aid programs in the country to get the resources and training they need for a successful career in manufacturing and other industries.

The partnership between the Community and Technical Colleges and Core Plus Aerospace is a great example of collaboration between the education community and the advanced manufacturing industry. The partnership is preparing the next generation for well-respected careers and providing them with opportunities to grow and succeed.

“What excites me about the future of CTC students is the opportunities they will have,” said Genevieve. “The skills students learn and the degrees they earn that have been validated by local industry will open doors to careers.”