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TACOMA, Wash. – Our dream of building a pre-apprenticeship center for all of Pierce County took a leap toward reality this week: WorkForce Central was awarded a $95,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente to help fund the center, which will prepare future construction workers for family-wage careers.

With another $100,000 dedicated by the Pierce County Council last month and $100,000 coming from WorkForce Central, we’re closing in on our goal to raise $500,000 to open and operate the center. While it will be open to all, we will target recruitment toward Pierce County residents who are unemployed and underemployed, individuals of color, and women.

“Apprenticeships are key to building the workforce of the future,” said Kim Sullivan, Vice President for Human Resources at Kaiser Permanente. “We’re proud to support WorkForce Central to build opportunity for Pierce County workers.”

The construction industry continues to grow at 3.6 percent annually in Pierce County, and faces an impending silver tsunami of retirements. And with an existing skills gap, a training center dedicated to developing a talent pipeline for construction-related jobs can’t come soon enough.

“We are thrilled that Kaiser Permanente is partnering with WorkForce Central to not only increase the talent pipeline, but also advance health equity in our county. There is much research that supports the correlation between stress caused by the lack of education and employment and chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease,” said Linda Nguyen, CEO of WorkForce Central.

“The diversity of funding sources for this center will allow us to offer full scholarships for this short-term training to any Pierce County resident who is interested in a construction-related career.”

Construction workers in Pierce County earn an average annual wage of about $59,323 — that’s 19 percent higher than the overall average annual wage ($49,996). The center will make special efforts to target residents of South Tacoma, Lakewood, Parkland, Spanaway and other unincorporated parts of Pierce County. Data shows these regions have a median income that is 23 to 27 percent lower than the county median wage.

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 program or on a job site, 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 supporting the pre-apprenticeship effort or sponsoring one or more trainee slots in the pre-apprenticeship center, please email
  • Businesses can fully sponsor a trainee for $1,500

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.