Washington State - Workforce Profile

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Washington State Department of Commerce

AN EXCEPTIONAL WORKFORCE Any state will tell you that they have a great workforce. But Washington has the reputation and numbers to back up the boast that our workforce is truly exceptional.


Whether you’re looking for workers to boost productivity on your production line or a coding whiz who will take your artificial intelligence project to the next level, you can trust Washington’s workforce to deliver. A lifetime of learning is the norm in Washington. More than 90% of all residents are high school graduates (compared to 83% nationally), 34.2% have a Bachelor’s degree or higher and threefourths of the state’s graduates call Washington home after graduation. One out of 29 residents has an engineering degree. Washington ranks second in the U.S. in labor and education, which measures the availability of workers, the level of educational attainment of the population and state K-12 spending.

WORLD-CLASS INSTITUTIONS Washington has six public universities, including the University of Washington and Washington State University, both nationally ranked. There are 27 private colleges and universities and 34 community and technical colleges, 13 of which offer four-year degrees. The state also has a national research laboratory, one of only 10 in the United States. Workforce training is connected to this pipeline of lifelong learning at several points. Many of Washington’s leading industries and businesses work closely with educators to align education tracks with industry needs. This is particularly true in Washington’s high-growth sectors: aerospace, agriculture/food manufacturing, clean technology, forest products, life science/global health, maritime and information and communication technology. These public-private partnerships, augmented with internships and apprenticeships, utilize the latest tools and technologies, ensuring a steady stream of highly trained, highly qualified workers that are ready to step into a position on day one.

















CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE Washington State operates 11 Centers of Excellence. These institutions are dedicated to forging connections between industry and education to provide workforce training, distribute cutting-edge research to businesses, and build the state’s competitive advantage in high-growth industries.

WORK START The Department of Commerce provides grants for customized training. Work Start is ideal for businesses that are making significant investments in new business activities or executing expansion strategies that need employees with specific skill sets or competencies that are not readily available locally.

WASHINGTON CUSTOMIZED TRAINING PROGRAM The Washington Customized Training Program provides businesses with employee training that is delivered at the local community college, technical center or private career-college level. Eligible programs include skills assessment, evaluation, training, equipment and materials as well as basic education and skills, technical skills and job-related instruction.

JOB SKILLS Washington’s Job Skills Program (JSP) focuses on providing training and employment for those at risk of losing their jobs due to technological or economic changes. This includes training employees in advance of a new major company expansion, retraining employees to help a company become more competitive within its industry, and providing current employees with training that can help them get a promotion or pay increase.

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE Washington is continually looking to the future as a guidepost for providing businesses and employers with the greatest opportunity for success. The state is already focused on training a new generation of workers to replace aging Baby Boomers in aerospace and maritime, all the while keeping an eye on the “next big thing.” New educational tracks in artificial intelligence, composites and robotics are already taught in colleges and universities throughout the state. Over the last 10 years, STEM education has experienced record growth, including a 101% increase in electrical engineering, a 75% jump in biochemistry and a 60.5% increase in STEM graduates.

MORE INFORMATION If you’re looking for a world-class workforce with the most up-to-date skills and a work ethic second to none, consider Washington State. Our business experts in the Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness will connect you to the institutions and programs that will meet your needs. For more information, call (206) 256-6100 or email us at moreinfo@choosewashingtonstate.com. Learn more about Washington State at: www.choosewashingtonstate.com.