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TACOMA, WA – On the eve of Thanksgiving, we’re feeling especially thankful for the Pierce County Council, which voted yesterday to allocate $100,000 in its 2019 budget to help fund a pre-apprenticeship center for all Pierce County residents.

A budget amendment to fund the center was sponsored by Councilman Derek Young, Councilwoman Pam Roach, and Councilman Rick Talbert. Leveraged with funding from WorkForce Central as well as public, private and philanthropic partners, this money will help WorkForce Central develop a pre-apprenticeship center in the construction trades that will prepare Pierce County residents for meaningful, family-wage jobs.

“I know that apprenticeships can change lives. It happened for my father and our family when he was offered an apprenticeship in the ’60s, and it took him out of dead-end jobs and gave him an opportunity for that true access into the middle class, and that’s what this is all about,” said Councilman Rick Talbert, who also serves on the WorkForce Central Executive Board.

With the construction industry growing at 3.6 percent annually in Pierce County, and with an impending silver tsunami of retirements coming in the next decade, this pre-apprenticeship center can’t come soon enough.

“Part of what I do is go out and try to sell Pierce County to businesses that would potentially want to site here, and one of the things we talk about is a trained workforce, and we don’t have enough right now — we have plenty of places for job placement today, and we want to make sure we have that trained workforce,” said Councilwoman Pam Roach.

“The talent shortage that the construction industry is experiencing will only worsen if we do not embrace a collaborative approach in growing the talent pipeline.,” said Linda Nguyen, CEO of WorkForce Central.

“In order for Pierce County residents to take advantage of the many family-wage jobs that are available today and that will be coming online in the future, we desperately need a pre-apprenticeship center that will not only prepare these individuals to enter an apprenticeship program or direct employment, but will also help trainees address barriers to success so they can stay employed or remain in their apprenticeship once they get there.”

Three hundred and twenty trainees annually will go through an 11-week program that uses a standardized curriculum developed by the National Standing Committee on Apprenticeship and Training of North America’s Building Trades Union that will be customized to meet local business needs. Graduates of the center will have the essential skills and technical skills they need to be successful in an apprenticeship, and will be certified in forklift operation, Washington State traffic control flagger, industrial first aid and CPR, and OSHA 10.

We are so close to our goal, but we still have money to raise!

  • If you are a business that is interested in sponsoring one or more slots in the pre-apprenticeship center, please email
  • Businesses can fully sponsor a trainee for $1,500

Your future awaits: There are more than 8,000 active job postings in Pierce County, including almost 200 in construction. Search now and find your dream job.

WorkForce Central strengthens the Pierce County economy by identifying skill gaps between jobseekers and employment opportunities, fostering data-driven decision making, and connecting workforce development partners into a cohesive, collaborative and effective network.