The Seattle Promise: Apprenticeship Training

Jenny’s Affordable Seattle Agenda

Building on the Seattle Promise with apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship training

Seattle’s next mayor has the responsibility to tackle the affordability crisis from every angle – this includes building true economic empowerment. To do that, we need to ensure students from all economic backgrounds, and from every neighborhood in Seattle, have the chance to earn a credential, certificate or degree.

In the next five years, there will be 740,000 job openings in Washington State. The majority of those jobs will be filled with people who have some postsecondary education — a degree, certificate or credential.  We want those jobs to go to Seattle students.

That’s why I proposed the Seattle Promise, a program to provide two years of free college tuition to any graduate of Seattle Public Schools. In addition to supporting graduates of Seattle Public Schools, everyone needs access to full range of higher education and training opportunities — from those just starting their careers to mid or late-career workers.  We will build on the Seattle Promise by deepening our focus on apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship training.

Apprenticeships are a vital aspect of workforce development strategies across a wide variety of business sectors because they give workers access to transformative career ladders. Through these approaches workers increase their skills and experience, they yield higher productivity and increase their value. A well-trained workforce is better both for workers and their employers, expands our local economy and makes our city a better place to live and work. In an economy as dynamic as Seattle’s we need a lifelong learning system that meets the needs of a 21st century community.

Apprenticeships accelerate skill acquisition, create a pathway to family wage jobs and provide employers with a significant return on investment. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, every public dollar invested in a qualified apprenticeship program returns $27 dollars – this is one of the most powerful ways to leverage our training resources. Work is currently underway in the state of Washington on expanding apprenticeship opportunities for pathway jobs of all kinds in all sectors. I applaud these efforts since expanding opportunity and filling our talent shortage means we will be better off as a city.

We must ensure that local workers have access to apprenticeships and good-paying careers in new and innovative sectors, just like this tool has been used so successfully in construction. Together, we can create pathways for Seattle’s young people, women, people of color, veterans, and disadvantaged workers, diversifying our skilled workforce. As Mayor, I would:

  • Expand Priority Hire. The Priority Hire Ordinance is focused on our construction purchases and has resulted in more than $8.5 million in wages for Priority Hire workers while creating over 237,000 hours of work for residents living in economically distressed neighborhoods of the city. City studies have shown that threats of increased project costs have not been realized. The partnerships with community-based organizations, like Got Green, Casa Latina, Urban League and LELO, have demonstrated the effectiveness of local outreach to prioritized communities. I will look at ways to expand this program and expand investments in the wrap-around services that help workers from disadvantaged communities access and complete pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeships, such as the Seattle Area Pipe Trades Education Center. I would look to expand this successful program to Housing investments, Public Private Partnerships and through workforce agreements on Seattle City Light energy efficiency initiatives. I am committed to ensuring we model these strategies as well, looking to our agencies to find ways to create access to civil service careers through apprenticeship.


  • Strengthen pre-apprenticeship programs and career connected learning opportunities. The pre-apprenticeship training infrastructure has successfully prepared hundreds of prioritized workers for career building job placements. Programs like Pre Apprenticeship Construction Education (PACE) and Apprenticeship, Non-Traditional Employment for Women (ANEW), and Apprenti are doing amazing work.  We must expand on this success by:
    • Working with Seattle Public Schools to support expansion of pre-apprenticeship training.
    • Asking our Workforce Development Boards to prioritize Apprenticeship strategies as they support local business.
    • Increasing our relationships with major foundations that invest in strategies aligned with these goals.
    • Partnering with leaders like Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Washington Technology Industry Association, and others who have embraced apprenticeships, internships, and are looking to a tech savvy workforce pipeline from high school to work.  I will look to them to deepen their commitments to our students to help meet their capacity needs.
    • Ensuring economically disadvantaged and single parent households get sustainable support for childcare, transportation and tools/materials that ensure they have the greatest chance for success.
    • Utilizing digital teaching platforms that provide the preparatory education our workers need to track into high-demand careers.
    • Enhancing Seattle’s collection of high-demand job skill information so that training programs can align their curricula to match the credentials and competencies needed by Seattle employers.


  • Commit to develop Community Workforce Agreements that increase opportunities for residents in distressed communities, Women and Minority Business Enterprises (WMBE), and women working in non-traditional fields. In this booming construction market it is our opportunity to increase our community inclusion by utilizing successful pre apprenticeship programs like The Washington Building Trades PACE programs and the ANEW program (Apprentice and Nontraditional Employment for Women). Under my administration, the City will continue to be a national leader in innovative procurement on city projects that benefits the communities it impacts.


  • Propose an ordinance to promote apprenticeship utilization.  We must encourage and promote apprenticeship utilization wherever possible. There are many benefits for firms, workers, and the City: these programs cultivate highly qualified applicants, reduce turnover, increase productivity, improve community relations, ensure availability of technically capable workers, and much more. I would work with all players in this arena: the employers, the workforce development and training community and the nonprofit organizations who are reaching out to those who need opportunity.  As mayor I would make sure that we support and encourage these programs wherever possible, using all tools at my disposal.


  • Call an Apprenticeship Summit to bring together those involved — including Seattle Public Schools, Seattle Colleges, the Port of Seattle, Seattle King County Building and Construction Trades, current apprenticeship programs, private employers, and non-profits — to explore synergies and opportunities to dramatically expand our apprenticeship capacity.

 — Jenny Durkan