The following is the text of a news release from the Washington State Department of Commerce:
(OLYMPIA, Wash.) — The Washington State Department of Commerce has awarded a $123,000 Governor’s Work Start grant to develop customized curriculum and train certified aluminum welders to support business expansion and new jobs at Armstrong Marine Inc. (AMI) in Port Angeles. AMI recently won a $38 million government contract to build state-of-the-art maintenance barges for the U.S. Navy.
Partners in the Port Angeles project, Impact Washington and Peninsula College, will work together with AMI to develop an expedited training. The company plans to double its work force in the Port Angeles area, hiring 60 new workers over the next 24 months. In addition to fulfilling AMI’s need to train qualified marine welders, the Work Start program will become regular curriculum at Peninsula College to support future growth in the state’s $37.6 billion maritime industry sector.
Port Angeles and Sequim high schools also may be involved in supporting a Running Start pathway to skilled, good-paying jobs in the marine trades on the rural Olympic Peninsula.
“Boat and shipbuilding, repair and maintenance is a vital subsector of Washington’s maritime industry, and a key economic driver for Clallam County,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “This project not only supports Armstrong Marine’s immediate expansion plans, but also supports our goals to increase export opportunities and continue to build our maritime, military and defense sectors.”
“We are pleased to have another exciting opportunity to help one of our longtime businesses expand and provide good jobs for skilled workers in the highly competitive maritime trades. Without programs such as Work Start, companies like Armstrong Marine have to look elsewhere, out of state, to find what they need,” said Ann Avary, director of the Washington Marine Center of Excellence in Port Angeles.
According to Joshua Berger, Inslee’s maritime sector lead at Commerce, many of the 17,000 people employed in the ship and boatbuilding sector around the state are aging out of the work force.
“It is a priority for us to support living-wage job creation in our rural communities, and Armstrong is indicative of an industry in need of these high-demand jobs. Facilitating connections between local employers and the training community is critical to creating a sustainable pathway for new and incumbent workers,” said Berger.
“The AMI partnership with Peninsula College and Impact Washington will train highly skilled marine aluminum welders to fulfill the immediate needs of AMI and provide a platform to facilitate its future growth,” said Loren Lyon, president of Impact Washington. “It will also institutionalize the training to produce additional highly paid, skilled aluminum welders to support other boat builders on the peninsula. In a rural county with considerable workforce headwinds, this Work Start program is of particular importance.”
Initial training begins this summer with 15 workers taking part in the new program that culminates in American Welding Society certification testing. A technical roundtable is planned March 31 to discuss the project schedule and requirements.