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Workers in the cafeteria at the Microsoft Commons
Workers in the cafeteria at the Microsoft Commons

The Washington Technology Industry Association was awarded one of several federal grants on Wednesday aimed at launching new apprenticeship programs across the country.

It and others groups in Washington state will use the $5 million grant, which came from federal and state governments as well as private donations, to recruit, train and place 1,000 workers over the next five years. The WTIA’s program will place 600 of those workers with Seattle-area tech companies including Microsoft, F5 Networks, Accenture and Impinj.

wtia1The program will be geared toward women, minorities and veterans. Participants will receive three to four months of computer science training in recognized certification programs, such as the IT industry’s Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert designation. Apprentices will then be matched with a company for a one-year, full-time, paid position.

Washington state has a well documented shortage of technology workers, as the state’s institutions, mainly the University of Washington, have struggled to produce enough graduates to fill all the jobs created by the region’s booming tech sector. One study even found that for every tech geek hired in Washington state, another seven positions open up.

Programs like this aim to change that statistic.

“This apprenticeship program delivers a new path towards inclusion through on-the-job training, while providing companies like F5 with a sustainable workforce development program to meet our ever-growing need for qualified talent,” F5 CTO Karl Triebes said in a press release.

The program is part of a broader White House initiative to create opportunities by training more workers for in-demand jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor awarded a total of $175 million to 46 organizations as part of the American Apprenticeship Initiative. The program aims to place 34,000 workers in high-growth and high-tech industries.

“This grant puts us in a position to continue to lead the way while providing high-paying jobs for people who live in our communities,” Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. “I am increasingly concerned with the lack of opportunity and security for our working families and can’t think of a better time to create opportunities for living wage jobs in our state.”

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