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E. Washington high school works with local businesses to teach auto repair skills

Screenshot from Association of Washington Business video
Members of the Association of Washington Business tour the site where high school students learn how to service cars as part of a program co-sponsored by two local businesses.

The program at Garfield-Palouse High School could be a model for other programs around the state.

Many businesses are using creativity to train people to work in their industries when they can’t find enough workers in the open market.

For example, two businesses on the Washington Palouse are working with a local school district to teach skills needed to service vehicles. Kris Johnson from the Association of Washington Business led a tour last week.

“This is down at Gar-Pal [Garfield-Palouse High School], where they’ve started an auto program. That’s a partnership between Spokane Community College, the local Ford dealership called Jess, the McGregor companies, and then the I-Tech program, which is to have a dual credit program in the high school," he said. "It offers young people a chance to become an automotive technician.”

When students finish the program, they earn both high school and college credit and have the chance to stay in their home towns and work at either Jess or McGregor.

Johnson says other businesses around the state are considering similar partnerships.

“I think there is a hunger to see more of this done, more of this type of collaboration, this type of partnership around the state as every manufacturer and every employer is looking for that next generation of workforce to come to work right now," he said.

Johnson says programs like the one at Gar-Pal are popular among some students who like the chance to train for careers without having to leave home and go deep into debt in college.

Business leaders tour eastern Washington firms

The tour at Garfield-Palouse High School was part of a weeklong visit to state businesses, sponsored by the Association of Washington Business.

They spent one day in Spokane, which has a strong and diversified manufacturing sector, but faces some challenges as it looks to grow.

Johnson from the AWB says Spokane County has 560 companies that employ 15,000 people. The state has set a goal to double the number of manufacturing firms and employees during the next 10 years.

Johnson says the pathway to that involves building a larger manufacturing workforce and improving the state’s tax and regulatory climate for business. He says it also involves preserving the region’s extensive hydropower infrastructure. His organization opposes proposals to breach the four dams on the Lower Snake River.

“We know that low-cost, affordable, reliable power has been a game changer for manufacturing in this state. It’s been a game changer for agriculture, recreation and our economy. We need to preserve and maintain our energy leadership," he said.

Courtesy of Association of Washington Business
The Association of Washington Business tour made a stop at Inland Empire Paper in Spokane Valley last week.

AWB's annual manufacturing bus tour made several stops in eastern Washington, including a day in the Tri-Cities, one in Moses Lake and Yakima and one day in Spokane, including stops at Altek (which manufactures aerospace parts), Inland Empire Paper, Hotstart, CarbonQuest (which works to reduce carbon emissions in buildings) and Paw Print Genetics/Neogen (genetic testing for dogs).

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.