Commissioner Conversation: Youth apprenticeship momentum gains and everyone benefits

Viewpoint from Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine.

Periodically we’ll feature posts directly from the Employment Security Department’s Commissioner Suzi LeVine. As we join the nation in celebrating National Apprenticeship Week, we’re excited to share her views with you!

Suzi-Eric @ AJAC

Commissioner Suzi LeVine and her husband, Eric, chat with Ardine Williams, VP of People for Amazon, about apprenticeships at the Career Connect Washington strategic plan launch on Oct. 25.

As many know, my husband, Eric, and I are, perhaps, the biggest advocates for youth apprenticeship in the whole world. We saw a profound system in Switzerland and have been doing everything we can to learn from and bring aspects of it here to the United States. We believe that it’s both essential to how we prepare our citizens for the future of work AND key to helping our businesses continue to grow and lead. Our efforts began in 2014 and are still going strong today.

That’s why recent events have been so important in terms of enabling the Apprenticeship Renaissance we’ve been working so hard to catalyze. Three events in three different locations last month really put some jet fuel in the system:

VPET in San Francisco

Wednesday, Oct. 24:  Since 2013, the City of Winterthur-Zurich has hosted the International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) where leaders from more than 80 nations gather to discuss “the global impact of vocational and professional education and training.” Recently the Swiss team that runs this global conference organized a mini-summit at which Eric and I keynoted and then moderated panels with employers, apprentices, intermediaries, workforce organizations and more. This was a great way to engage the tech community more deeply in the conversation of diversifying and expanding apprenticeship to an area of deep talent need.

Strategic Plan for Career Connect Washington

Gov Inslee CCW

Governor Jay Inslee speaks at the news conference where the Career Connect Washington strategic plan was delivered.

Thursday, Oct. 25: The Career Connect Washington team officially delivered its Strategic Plan to Governor Inslee, detailing the plan for how we might have an effective statewide youth apprenticeship system here in Washington State. Organizations such as Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft, Kaiser Permanente, Avista, our Community Colleges, SEH America, AFL-CIO, SEIU and government and academic dignitaries such as Superintendent Chris Reykal, Senator Lisa Wellman, and Governor Inslee spoke up advocating for this system!

Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA)

Friday, Oct. 26: New America Foundation launched PAYA  and Washington’s own Lynn Strickland, Executive Director of Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) presented her work – alongside many other leaders in youth “earn-and-learn” systems across America.

The American dream

For us to get multiple braided pathways going, we will need to catalyze movement on apprenticeship all across the United States. Again – these recent events –and many others–including the National Apprenticeship Week event in Everett last week–have been instrumental to catapulting us forward.

NAW 2018

National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) ambassadors and I enjoyed the NAW celebration in Everett on Nov. 8

When, not if, we are successful, we will re-ignite the paths to success and the American Dream for more Americans than ever before!

Happy Apprenticeship Week!


Check it out! The state’s job match website,, now supports Registered Apprenticeship in Washington.  We’ve launched a resource page,, this fall where job seekers and employers can take the first steps to join the apprenticeship momentum.

As a partner in Washington’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job.  We also work with businesses to help them find employees.

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