AUBURN, Wash. – A recent report highlights Washington State's growing job skills gap, according to Washington Roundtable, a non-profit, public policy organization made up of senior executives from major private sector employers throughout Washington State
In the 2013 report, employers voiced concerns about the lack of skilled labor. Many community and technical colleges are stepping up to provide special courses to meet the job market demands.
“I was laid off a couple years ago. I originally went back to school to enhance my skills and make myself more hireable but it's really become an amazing opportunity to start a whole new career," said Suzanne Craven, a student at Green River Community College.
Craven was a plumber. Now in her 50s, she's taking machinery courses.
Green River Community College is seeing more students like Suzanne going back to school. The school offers 26 different trade programs from auto body to carpentry to welding.
Administrators are seeing long waiting lists for these particular trade courses.
“These programs allow students to come to Green River and hit the restart button in their lives,” said Josh Clearman, Dean of Trades, Technology & Workforce.
The community college also hears from industries like manufacturing, aerospace, IT and healthcare about a need for skilled workers, especially in nursing where there's been a shortage in Washington.
Anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 of GRCC's workforce education department students are looking for job. The average age of a student in this department is 46 years old.
Clearman says many graduates land good paying jobs. The average pay for a trade job is $26.11 an hour.
“The whole construction industry is hurting right now. Contractors want skilled people now,” said Glen Martin, a carpentry instructor.