PASCO -- A new training program for aerospace machinists will land in the Tri-Cities this fall.
The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee -- or AJAC -- announced this week that it will make its offerings available in the Tri-Cities in partnership with Columbia Basin College in Pasco.
AJAC is a state-funded nonprofit that seeks to train workers to replace retiring employees in the aerospace industry, said spokeswoman Lisa Van Dyke. It has programs in Seattle, Everett, Tacoma and Spokane.
The state's aerospace industry is expecting worker shortages in the next five years if training efforts aren't increased, Van Dyke said. Starting wage for a trained worker is about $23 per hour, depending on the employer and region.
While learning, trainees in the program get paid 60 percent of the going wage -- $12 to $14 per hour, Van Dyke said.
The training is mostly on-the-job, with only about 7 percent of an apprentice's time spent in the classroom.
The program is expected to start out with about 12 students, said Derek Brandes, CBC's dean for career and technical education.
There are basically two ways to enter the program. Employers of machinists can sign up their workers to benefit from their improved skills, or people looking for a new -- or first -- career could apply for apprenticeships with companies.
AJAC can help match up potential apprentices with employers. The nonprofit accepts applications online and forwards suitable candidates into a pool from which employers draw.
AJAC is still looking for more Tri-City employers to participate in the program. So far, only TK Machine Company in Richland is listed with AJAC as a local participant in the program.
Employers do not have to be part of the aerospace industry to train the apprentices, said Brandes.
Other manufacturing sectors use much of the same high-precision machining skills, which will be augmented by the training AJAC will offer at CBC.
The college will offer a first class, called "Introduction to Manufacturing" specifically for the apprenticeship program starting this fall term, Brandes said. The class will be taught in the evening.
The program also will include the use of a classroom on wheels that will visit the Tri-Cities sometime this fall. And all manufacturing students at CBC will benefit from its visit.
The Advanced Inspection and Manufacturing Mobile Training Unit -- a semi-trailer stuffed with cutting-edge equipment -- will be available to students who aren't in the apprenticeship program, Brandes said.
It features the latest computer-aided design and measuring technology that is out of CBC's financial reach, he said.
The apprenticeship can run anywhere from two to four years, depending on the trainee's progress. Upon completion, workers receive a national certification as journeyman machinists.
For more information, go to ajactraining.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Employers interested in training apprentices can also call 533-8299.