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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Two of Seattle’s biggest tech companies are signing onto a new paid internship program for college students launched by Mayor Jenny Durkan.

Amazon, Expedia, and other employers in the area will help the mayor develop a pilot for Opportunity Promise, a program that places students in paid internships and apprenticeships. Labor groups and Seattle colleges will work with the employers to develop the program.

Durkan announced Opportunity Promise Tuesday during her 2019 State of the City address.

“We all benefit when Seattle kids get the opportunity to be world class workers,” Durkan said during the speech.

The internship program builds on Seattle Promise, which offers two years of college tuition for Seattle public school students. The new pilot will provide internships for a select group of Seattle Promise scholars. The goal is to open the internship program up to all recipients of tuition assistance down the road.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by 2020 there will be 1.4 million computer-science related jobs and just 400,000 graduates with the skills needed to fill them. Narrowing that gap has been an acute focus of big tech companies, like Amazon. In November, the Seattle tech titan launched “Amazon Future Engineer,” a program that funds computer science classes and scholarships with a focus on underserved students.

“We know that our city of the future lies in the hands of our young people,” Durkan said Tuesday. “It’s critical that we not only provide access to free college, but we also build a pathway to the good-paying jobs of the future.”

The Opportunity Promise pilot will launch in mid-2019. After the pilot, the founding partners plan to design a broader program with internships running for two consecutive summers that then direct interns into apprenticeships.

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