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Western Washington program aims to add women in construction jobs

The Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women program provides women with the training they need to take on construction jobs.

SEATTLE — There is a renewed push to bring more women into the construction trades as Seattle’s skyline continues to grow.

The Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women program (ANEW) is about to graduate nearly two dozen women to work in construction.

“I was in social work, and I got burned out,” said graduate Silas Follendorf.

Follendorf is working on Amazon's Block 21 project in South Lake Union. 

Amazon helped finance Follendorf’s training, materials, and equipment for the roughly 12-week long course. 

“I just love it so much. My life has radically changed,” she said.

Follendorf and other soon-to-graduates were part of a hard hat tour at the South Lake Union site, looking at the future projects which may lie below. 

ANEW Executive Director Karen Dove said there is a demand in trades for more workers, and that women hold a higher percentage of jobs than nationwide trends. 

RELATED: Women-owned businesses bring $33 billion to Washington's economy

“Nationally, women are only at 3% in the construction trades, in Washington we’re at 9%," Dove said. 

Rough data shows more than 25,000 women are working statewide in some form of construction, which are family-wage jobs, Dove said. 

Dove credited Amazon with recognizing the need for diversity and staffing as it continues to build out its 11.5 million square foot, 47-building Seattle campus. 

Amazon previously said it has donated $135 million to Seattle non-profits and homelessness support, along with money for public transit and education. 

RELATED: Amazon’s Bellevue campus could rival size of HQ2 in Virginia

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