Kaiser Permanente Awards $350,000 to Expand Youth Apprenticeship

Partnerships throughout the community focus on scaleable, equity-focused impact

On May 22nd the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan of Washington announced a generous grant of $350,000 to the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County (WDC) to expand apprenticeship opportunities in in-demand sectors for opportunity youth. "We’re pleased to have so many partners on-board as we take on this project,” said Marie Kurose, new CEO of the WDC. “It’s exciting to bring our focus on high-quality training and high-demand jobs into a community like South King County, where those resources, combined with a commitment to equitable outcomes, can have a huge impact on the lives of opportunity youth."

The WDC, in partnership with Puget Sound Educational Services District (PSESD), the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC), and Seattle Education Access (SEA), will develop a scalable system  that connects low-income youth and young adults to high demand registered apprenticeship pathways, with an initial focus on manufacturing and healthcare. “The continued conversations around regional strategies and the integration of current systems to assist in the expansion of registered apprenticeship opportunities for all youth in multiple industries is both important and exciting.” Demetria “Lynn” Strickland, Executive Director, AJAC. 

Partners will form an opportunity youth apprenticeship consortium, bringing together apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeships, service providers, youth re-engagement centers, and other interested partners to better understand the challenges facing young people when entering apprenticeship.

Across the two-year grant emphasis will be placed on building pathways for opportunity youth to enter healthcare apprenticeships. With new apprenticeships starting up in Medical Assisting and other occupations, the timing couldn’t be better. “There is tremendous momentum for the apprenticeship model in our region,” said Kim Wicklund, Director of Community Health at Kaiser Permanente. “We are delighted that the Consortium is looking at apprenticeship opportunities through the lens of equity and supporting disengaged youth in accessing such important programs. These young adults play an important role in the healthcare workforce of the future.”

Research shows that there are 19,000 young people ages 16 to 24 that are not in school and not working across south King County, the target area for these resources. Through access to apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship, young people with barriers to employment like housing insecurity, justice involvement, and food scarcity will enter the workforce prepared to succeed.

By working with dropout re-engagement centers and recruitment partners, the consortium will ensure a diverse set of prospective apprentices hear about pathways to living-wage careers. PSESD's role across school districts will ensure that a referral and placement system will be designed with long-term programmatic sustainability in mind, accessing funding sources like Open Doors.

Youth apprenticeship transforms how education systems prepare young people to enter careers and launch into adulthood through mutually beneficial partnerships across schools, industry, and communities. These partnerships create opportunities for young people to finish high school, start their postsecondary education at little-to-no cost, complete paid work experience alongside a mentor, and start along a path that broadens their options for the future. 

The work supported by the Kaiser grant will be closely aligned with the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship grant awarded by New America to the Construction Center of Excellence at Renton Technical College. Both grants will seek to build regional capacity for in-school and out-of-school youth to access and succeed in apprenticeship pathways. "We have been honored to be a part of expanding registered apprenticeship opportunities across industries and beyond the traditional trades programs," said Shana Peschek, Director of the Construction Center of Excellence. "Supporting the Workforce Development Council of Seattle King County on their Kaiser grant is another opportunity to align the work we are doing under the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship grant for youth in apprenticeship.  This work will focus on equity and access for youth, opportunity youth and young adults to gain living wage career opportunities through a registered apprenticeship pathway. These two funding mechanisms will bring together agencies in synchronized efforts for systemic change. It’s exciting to be a part of!"


Grant by the numbers:

2 – initial occupations of focus, manufacturing and healthcare

5 – employers hire opportunity youth apprentices

15 – opportunity youth enter apprenticeship

75 – youth enter pre-apprenticeship or other pre-employment training

150 – out-of-school youth learn about manufacturing apprenticeship pathways