Hammering out RAP’s details

MARYSVILLE – Local legislators plan to support a bill that would help fund the startup of the proposed Regional Apprenticeship Pathways Center at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

Rep. Mike Sells and Sen. Steve Hobbs plan to sponsor bills in their respective houses. At a breakfast this week, other local lawmakers pledged their support.

Snohomish County Councilman Nate Nehring said Wednesday that there also is a request in the governor’s budget for ongoing funding for the center.

The “Connecting Learning to Earning” center would provide real-world experience and hands-on training taught by industry experts for family wage jobs. Career and Technical Education director Donnetta Oremus said Wednesday that she and other staff have been working with industry professionals to develop a curriculum that meets their needs.

“Industry came to us,” explaining the need for more workers in the trades locally, Oremus said. “We gotta do this.”

Workforce Snohomish data shows there is a need for such a learning facility. In the next decade, in the county alone, there will be an increase of 2,200 trade jobs. Most-needed are electricians (38 percent) followed by laborers (25 percent) and carpenters (20 percent). Despite that, the county lacks programs for such jobs, and needs a program to reduce the construction skills gap.

The trade industry came to center organizers, saying the average age of people starting their apprenticeship programs was 28. “That’s a lot of missed productivity after high school,” Nehring said. The industry asked what could be done to get students interested sooner.

“This will provide great training in high school for students to get on the fast track to a career in the trades,” Nehring said.

RAP would be the first of its kind in north Snohomish County. It includes an accelerated career-connected education design. Students would earn a diploma and college credential in high school. It would also potentially lead to a paid apprenticeship and journey card, along with a college degree.

“It’s all wrapped up into one,” Oremus said.

The curriculum would basically prepare students for the apprenticeship programs. Classes are being developed so that learning will meet state requirements in things like math and lab science. Several school districts have expressed interest in the center, which has only been funded so far by $200,000 from the County Council. The facility would be different from the Sno-Isle Skills Center because of the involvement of labor unions and Everett Community College.

“It’s a unique model for the state,” Oremus said.

Along with the county, school district and EvCC, 25 other partners have shown interest in such a program including: Arlington and Lakewood school districts; the cities of Marysville and Arlington; and organizations representing electricians, carpenters, laborers and general contractors.

Despite so many groups working together, plans have moved along quickly, Oremus said. “All of the stars have aligned,” she said. “Our industry partners have been blown away.”

Nehring said center advocates have been working since late spring. The timeline was tight to get a budget to the governor and legislature. “We were motivated to get this thing going.”

The center would use the old wood shop at M-P. The 5,612 square foot building would include areas for two labs, a classroom and a covered outdoor area. On Thursday local and state leaders planned to tour the site. “When they put their eyes on the building they can envision the students’ learning space, and it makes it all real,” Oremus said.

“Our community has been clamoring for more trades” opportunities, Oremus said. “The district heard that message.”

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