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Snohomish County leads aerospace training efforts07/10/2009
Snohomish County Media Advisory: Looking to address the state’s aerospace workforce concerns, Snohomish County announced Tuesday that it has joined the Aerospace Futures Alliance and a consortium of community colleges and educational facilities to create a new, statewide aerospace institute offering training, research and development. Joined in attendance by representatives of the federal and state delegations, the partners said they will work to create new curriculum for cutting-edge technologies as well as offer opportunities to aerospace providers such as the Boeing Co. and Aviation Technical Services (ATS) for advanced employee training. The institute will coordinate training among a statewide consortium of schools and programs that provide aerospace workforce education and training. Specifically, the Aerospace Futures Alliance (AFA) will lease from Snohomish County a 30,000-square-foot facility at Paine Field Airport to be operated as a centralized training center. A similar center will be located at the Spokane International Airport, bringing the east and west together to create a statewide aerospace training program. “This creates new and needed opportunities for our aerospace workers to keep their skill sets well ahead of our competition,” Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon said. “This also helps our leading businesses such as Boeing stay competitive by maintaining a strong core of skilled workers well into the future.” “This is a way of keeping up with the needs of the aerospace industry,” said Linda Lanham, AFA’s executive director. “We have to start now because we’re already competing with five other states that have such training facilities. We’re losing our edge for skilled aerospace workers.” The educational consortium allows for the rapid development of training programs that don’t currently exist in Washington state but are needed to remain competitive in today’s aerospace industry. Training will be offered throughout the state at different colleges to suit the needs and locations of individual aerospace companies. A strong focus will be on “training the trainers,” officials said. For instance, ATS has identified the need for more sheet metal structures training and support, as well as the future need for composites training. The consortium will have the chance to collaborate on a curriculum that addresses those needs, then offer that back to ATS, community colleges and other educational facilities teaching aerospace classes.