New aerospace jobs highlight skills gap in Washington

Originally published on July 9, 2012 4:08 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Two aerospace companies plan to expand their operations in Washington. Governor Chris Gregoire made that announcement Monday from the Farnborough Air Show in London. But the news highlights a gap between the legions of unemployed and the skills they need for many new jobs.

Everett, Washington is a good microcosm for the so-called skills gap. The industrial city north of Seattle is home to Boeing and hundreds of key aerospace suppliers.

That industry is booming. In fact, Italy-based UMBRA has just announced plans to expand its Everett operation. That could result in 100 new jobs.

But Everett is also an old mill town. This spring, Kimberly-Clark shut down its pulp and tissue paper mill there: more than 700 jobs lost.

Governor Gregoire acknowledges that even as one sector of Washington’s economy is taking off, another is biting the dust.

“The recession has taken a huge toll on workers and families and some of those jobs are not coming back," Gregoire says. "So now’s the time for us to ensure that those people get an opportunity at a new career.”

But sometimes the skill gap is too great. For instance, one Dutch aerospace company in the Everett area needs engineers, not retrained millworkers.

On the Web:

Gov. Gregoire's statement:

http://governor.wa.gov/news/news-view.asp?pressRelease=1938&newsType=1

Farnborough Air International Show:

http://www.farnborough.com/airshow-2012.htm

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