WENATCHEE — The North Central Educational Service District has been awarded $200,000 from Career Connect Washington to create a regional network designed to match more young people with high-demand, high-wage careers.

It is one of nine regional networks being funded by the state Employment Security Department to bring together and manage regional, cross-industry partnerships that, in turn, will create more youth career opportunities and help businesses recruit a new generation of workers.

“The goal is to have programs that support at least 60% of the graduating students in Washington each year with a Career Launch by the year 2030,” said Sue Kane, NCESD’s director for STEM Initiatives and Strategic Partnerships. “We believe that all youth should have opportunities to learn about incredible career opportunities in our own backyard.”

NCESD will use the funds — $100,000 a year for two years — to start and develop the regional network, implementing and then building on the programs each year.

The objectives are to:

  • Bring together employers, labor, education, workforce council and community-based organizations to help expand Career Connected Learning opportunities.
  • Develop regional-specific plans to grow opportunities for each area.
  • Allow the NCESD and the Work Force Development Council to serve as CCL navigators for the region (to industry, educators, counselors).
  • Work with educators and industry to develop and scale programs.
  • Consolidate regional data and report to the state.

Career Connect Washington was created by Gov. Jay Inslee, with funding provided by the Legislature, to expand opportunities for young people to gain real-world experience. That includes introducing elementary and middle school students to more career possibilities and then preparing them for those careers in high school through classroom instruction and “Career Launch” programs that could include paid internships and apprenticeships.

By the time students graduate from high school, they could already have a post-high school credential and/or a year’s worth of college credit, making them a candidate for hire.

Nevonne McDaniels: 664-7151