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SHOp CLASS to the REscue By Peter Schrappen That amount reflects the average debt owed by students graduating from four-year colleges in 2015, bringing the national education debt of students nationwide to nearly $70 billion, reports The Wall Street Journal.

According to the Institute of College Access & Success (TICAS), Washingtonians on average fair a little better and owe $24,804 when they leave college. On the flip side, Washington is not faring well with the number of students who graduate from high school. The state ranks 38th in high school graduation rates according to TICAS. Washington’s marine industry is not immune to these national trends, and they directly affect the care your boat gets when it’s serviced at your favorite yard. “In some ways, our education system is broken,” said Dave Gering, Executive Director of the Manufacturing Industrial Council (MIC), which is located in the SoDo area of Seattle. “We are doing our kids a disservice with the ‘college for all’ mantra of the past 20 years, and we need to build better pathways that help lead students to careers.” Gering is the de facto leader of Core Plus, a Washington state-wide program focused on restoring high school shop programs. A coalition of nonprofits, trade associations, Boeing, JP Morgan Chase, and others have coalesced around a simple concept: Offer diverse learning opportunities to high school students and give them avenues right after graduation to high-quality jobs that address tremendous needs in boating and maritime as well as the aviation, construction, and agriculture sectors. “What maritime is facing is exactly the same dilemma Boeing struggles with. How



do we find high-quality workers over time to keep manufacturing world-class planes and boats in the Northwest?” said Gering. Some could argue that maritime, and recreational boating specifically, are facing more acute workforce shortages in Washington than their maritime colleagues across the country. “Washington state continues to lead the country in boat sales, and these boats need to be worked on somewhere with high-quality systems experts,” said George Harris of the Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA). “There are a couple of reasons that this area is so conducive to world-class boating. Looking outside, there’s the scenery, of course, but there’s also the 69 boatyards in our state and the 28,000 marine tradesmen and women working on everything from recreational boats to large cargo vessels,” he said. While some readers may be surprised to see his reference to large cargo vessels and recreational boating in the same sentence, Harris has recently embraced the thinking that manufacturing and repair work across the sectors are fundamentally the same core competencies. “Due to our investment in Core Plus, I now see the close link between what Boeing’s workers do and how our boat builders go about building their latest project. It’s the same skill set, but applied and catered to differently, says Harris. “All that said, our state and the entire marine industry is facing a continuing

graying of the workforce,” he added. “We simply do not have the young people learning the skills in school that will ready them for employment in a marine trade. But that reality is changing and changing fast both in the state capitol and around the state.” Career and technical education, and specifically Core Plus, have gained traction with NMTA members and lawmakers in a short amount of time. Scott Anderson of CSR Marine operates two boatyards in Ballard and Des Moines. He has reaped the benefits of such an education. “It was love at first sight (when I first heard about Core Plus),” said Anderson.

Northwest Yachting October 2016  

The best of Boating in the Pacific Northwest, featuring stories on how to break into sailboat racing, understanding and planning around west...

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