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Workforce Development Programs

My Gamechanger: Apprenticeship opens opportunity for local workerMy gamechanger

A job is more than a salary. Sometimes it changes your life. This week the Port of Seattle Commissioners adopted a policy that will require contractors on large Port projects to hire more apprentices from local, underserved zip codes. As a public entity, we believe that our investments should benefit workers in all communities.

View how one local worker used an apprenticeship opportunity to change his life.

JC Chen goes on to join Hyperloop team at UW
Workforce development in action

Former Port intern now on UW Hyperloop team

“JC” Jian Chen, a summer 2015 intern with the Port of Seattle Construction Services, was on the University of Washington’s (UW) Hyperloop team, which placed fourth in the United States and sixth worldwide in the recent worldwide Space X Hyperloop competition in Hawthorne, CA.

Hyperloop is a conceptual high-speed transportation system put forward by entrepreneur Elon Musk.

About 1,200 schools and companies entered the competition a year and a half ago, Chen said. From there only 30 made it past “design weekend,” where the UW won the technical innovation award for best safety subsystem and placed high enough to attend the competition

“This competition gave us the opportunity to interact with other teams, see their ‘pods’ and get the chance to understand their interpretation of the ideal Hyperloop system,” Chen said. “Throughout my discussions I recognized that building a Hyperloop pod is truly unique, the first of its kind, and the floor of a new era of transportation. This contest allowed students to challenge themselves, be innovative and create something truly original.”

As a newly admitted mechanical engineering student at the UW student, Chen is the only freshmen on the Hyperloop team. He helps test portions of the pod such as magnetic levitation and breaking. “Though I am on the mechanical team, that does not prohibit me from working on other portions of the pod,” he said.  “The team does a great job of allowing us to learn and explore.”

“We actually were called the underdogs throughout the competition, due to how little funding we had,” Chen added. “The total cost of our pod was below $27,000, while other pods were as much as half a $300,000. But we got the thumbs up from Elon Musk during a personal review of our pod! I am extremely excited as we gear up for the next stage of competition this summer back at SpaceX headquarters!”
Chen is a 2016 graduate of Kentridge High School.

Highline Students Learn About Careers in Skilled Trades

Employers throughout the region are experiencing a shortage of workers in skilled trades, making them high-demand occupations. Careers in skilled trades provide good jobs without requiring a four-year college degree.



Contact us by phone (206) 787-5775 or email.
  Read about Jeff Bynum and why trade school a smart choice for him

Trade school a smart choice for Port of Seattle employee

Jeff Bynum, central plant operator at Sea-Tac Airport and pictured below, found a skilled trade involving skills other than "using a wrench..." 

Jeff Bynum works in HVAC, a skilled trade

Jeff Bynum, one of the Port of Seattle employees responsible for indoor climate control at Sea-Tac Airport, remembers when he made the decision to pursue a skilled trade career instead of college.

Bynum said he never really cared for high school, and didn’t want to go to college. It was his father’s suggestion that he study heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) that launched his journey into the trades. He got his initial training in HVAC through the military reserves, and then spent two years in trade school, followed by an apprenticeship.

Today, as a “central plant” operator at Sea-Tac Airport, he keeps the airport’s boilers, chillers fans and pumps humming.

The opportunities to advance in a trade career are plentiful, he said, especially with many of the baby boomers retiring. “As long as you get the schooling to be licensed and certified with the state, you can be qualified for multiple trade jobs, which can make for a more steady and flexible work life,” he said.

In many apprenticeships, employers pay for training, which can include maintenance, service, modernization, plumbing, electrical and other skills. For those interested, Bynum recommended applying for as many apprenticeships as possible to increase the probability of getting hired.

“There are ample opportunities for everyone, including women and minorities, in the skilled trades,” he said. “Skills are evolving as well. Not every trade job means using a wrench on pipes, but can involve technology and computers.”

For those waiting to find an apprenticeship position, Bynum recommends trade school. “It might take a while to get an apprenticeship, but don’t give up. It can be discouraging when you apply for something and don’t get it, but keep trying for apprenticeships,” he said. “It’s a commitment and it’s not easy, but worth it in the long run.”

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries actively posts apprenticeships and other important skilled trade information on its website.

  Read about Curtis Holshouser and how Airport University expanded
  his career pathway

Curtis Holshouser, a Delta Airlines employee, recently graduated with other Airport University students from Highling College. Holshouser earned an Associates degree and now teaches customer service courses to other students at Airport University.

Read Holshouser's story here.


More about workforce development

The Port supports programs that provide:

  • quality job training;
  • job placement;
  • pre-apprenticeship; and
  • other education and career development services.

We help to ensure our port tenants, customers and connected industries have access to skilled workers by partnering with nonprofit organizations, area economic and workforce development agencies, and through direct staff efforts, while striving for equal access to economic opportunity and community inclusion in all of our efforts.

The links below will direct you to more information about the port’s other workforce development efforts.

Port Jobs
The Office of Social Responsibility manages the Port’s contract with Port Jobs, under which they provide a range of high-quality workforce development services focused on the airport, transportation, logistics, construction, and other port-related industries.
Port Jobs serves both employers and job seekers. Their Airport Jobs office serves as a centralized airport employment hub where they connect community members looking for work and airport tenants and related employers who need qualified candidates. They also offer job skills and college credit classes on-site at the airport through Airport University, helping workers advance and businesses be more productive. Port Jobs also conducts research to identify trends in the local economy to ensure that their workforce development services continue to meet the evolving needs of industry and the community.

Some highlights from the Port Jobs’ work in 2013 include:

  • Assisted more than 7,000 job seekers
  • More than 1,275 clients obtained employment at the airport
  • Their job placements generated more than $20 million in new wages for local families
  • Provided job skills training to over 250 people, though courses such as computers, customer service and food handler permit preparation
  • Over 83 airport workers earned college credits through courses offered on-site at the airport in partnership with Highline Community College
Apprenticeship Opportunity Project
Through OSR the Port contracts with Port Jobs to support Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women's (ANEW) Apprenticeship Opportunities Project (AOP). AOP supports unemployed or under-employed King County residents who want to pursue a living-wage career in the construction industry or other skilled trades. Services include individualized assessment and referrals, pre-apprenticeship training, assistance applying for apprenticeships, support to help ensure successful apprenticeship completion, and job placement assistance.

Some highlights from the Apprentice Opportunity Project in 2013 include:

  • 236 people were enrolled in AOP services
  • 92% of the participants were low-income
  • 156 started a Registered Apprenticeship
  • Average starting wage was $20.07/hr.
  • These new apprenticeships mean over $5.2 million in annual earnings for local families
Apprentice Utilization
At any given point in time, the Port has a number of major construction projects underway, ensuring that our facilities continue to meet the growing needs of the community and the businesses that rely on them. The construction projects create good living wage jobs.
Apprenticeship is the main workforce development strategy within the construction industry. To help ensure that the training pipeline for the skilled trades meets the needs of industry and the community, the Port sets apprentice utilization requirements and diversity goals for the contractors on all of its large construction projects. OSR supports these efforts by tracking and monitoring actual apprentice utilization on these projects, in partnership with the Port’s Labor Relations department.

On the Port’s large public works construction projects in 2013:

  • 12.3% of hours were worked by apprentices – a total of 24,749 hours, bringing in over $792,000 in wages to 130 area families
  • Over 170 apprentices, who have worked on major Port construction projects over the last several years graduated to Journey status
  • 17.0% of apprentice hours were by minorities
  • 4.9% of apprentice hours were by women
  • Apprentice utilization requirements were met on 25% of the projects that closed in 2013
  • 106 Apprentices who got a portion of their training on port projects reached Journey level

OSR and the Port also support apprentices and increased representation of women and people of color in apprenticeships and the trades through our support of the Apprenticeship Opportunity Project.

Maritime Industry

As a part of the Century Agenda, OSR is helping the Port to increase work force training, jobs, and business opportunities for local communities in port-related industries such as maritime, trade, travel and logistics.

Members of the maritime industry have expressed workforce development needs, and OSR is working with the Port Commission and other Port staff to support regional collaboration to meet these needs so the sector can continue to grow. We are supporting research to better understand the current and future workforce needs across the maritime industry in our region; bringing together employers, training providers, policy makers, and the public; helping to increase training opportunities and career events related to the sector; and working to bring grant funds to our region to fund these workforce development efforts.

Our workforce development work in the maritime sector is still in its early stages – additional strategies and projects are in development.

Fellowships and Internships
The Port provides a number of internships and other “on the job” learning opportunities to members of the community, including high school and college students as well as veterans.

Together, the Port’s Human Resources and Development, Community Relations, Marine Maintenance and OSR departments worked with “host” departments last year to provide the following opportunities:

  • Internships for 45 high school, college, and graduate students
  • Internships and career transition support for six veterans
  • Real-world aerospace and maritime learning experiences for 100 students, in partnership with the Seattle and Highline public school districts

Veterans Fellowship Program
The Office of Social Responsibility has partnered with the Port's Human Resources & Development department to create the Veterans Fellowship Program (VFP). The program helps facilitate veterans’ transition from military service to civilian employment by providing short-term (six month) employment and individualized career assistance.

National Urban Fellows
National Urban Fellows (NUF) is a national program that develops accomplished and courageous professionals of all ethnic and racial backgrounds, particularly people of color and women, to be leaders and change agents in the public and nonprofit sectors, with a strong commitment to social justice and equity. Each year, the Port of Seattle provides a 10-month mentorship opportunity to a National Urban Fellow for a unique chance to participate in the day-to-day operations of a large public organization.

Port of Seattle runs an Internship Program, which is designed to ensure we have the future workforce we need in Port-related industries. We provide qualified candidates with valuable experience and an opportunity to excel in their field of study by offering paid internships for graduate, undergraduate and high-school students in a range of Port-related career fields.

In addition to internships funded by the Port, we also partner with the Seattle Public School District’s C-WEST Program and the City’s Seattle Youth Employment Program to provide internships opportunities in our Marine Maintenance department for students interested in a career in the skills trades

ICT Intern finds project-based position at the Port of Seattle

Oliver RESIZED.jpg

Stepping into the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Department at Pier 69 you may find yourself greeted by an intern with a superb smile and a friendly demeanor.
His name is Oliver Lindseth, and he is one of 11 interns for the ICT High School Internship program. Lindseth will be a senior at Roosevelt High School in Seattle.
“I like the opportunity [Port of Seattle has] given to me and all the support,” Lindseth said.
The ICT High School internship program is supervised by Content Services Manager Amberine Wilson. Wilson’s goal is to give local youth the opportunity to gain work experience in business analysis, project management, and SharePoint solution development. The project-based learning program gives interns access to real business problems in which they design and deploy solutions.
“[Wilson has] facilitated this entire thing for us,” Lindseth said. “Without her we wouldn’t have this opportunity.”
This summer, the Port of Seattle is offering over a 100 summer internship positions in different department for young students. Lindseth received his opportunity as an intern for the ICT High School internship program through Seattle Youth Employment Program. Seattle mayor Ed Murray funded the program’s initiative to get more students job opportunities during the summer as well as throughout the year.
The Port of Seattle is striving to get its interns first-hand experience in tech jobs and hopes to prepare for the next wave of working class citizens in those career fields. Seattle is fortunate enough to have several tech industry companies searching for workers that can fill up job positions in the field. Through the ICT High School internship program 11 interns are prepared for the future; where technology experience will be essential.
“I just want to be the best I can be and have all the experiences I can have,” Lindseth said.