Students and Families

Frequent Questions on SCWA

Student, Family, and Alumni Information

Background Seattle Public Schools has launched a Priority Hire program with a Student and Community Workforce Agreement (SCWA). While similar to the City of Seattle, Sound Transit, and King County, this program introduces ground-breaking new initiatives. The SCWA is among the first in the country to create a direct pipeline for students and their families as well as diverse workers and communities.

This Priority Hire career program and the accompanying SCWA agreement provides systematic change to brings improved racial and social career outcomes for our students, families, and communities.

Our Program Links

  1. Pre-Apprenticeship training classes (the early training that prepares students, young adults and other workers to do construction work)
  2. Priority access to apprenticeship employment (the paid training work on a project construction site)
  3. The Student and Community Workforce Agreement for unions and construction companies

Collectively, these are called Priority Hire.

Construction Jobs: a high-wage, no-debt career pathway

Why should a student or an adult think about construction work?

Many students and parents have never heard how good construction work can be. Offering a program in the Seattle high schools such as Rainier Beach will help make more students and parents aware of the value of a construction career. These are high-wage careers that can pay as well or more than a college-degree job. They also have no-debt and the union provides health care benefits and retirement pensions.

When you say that these are high-wage jobs, what does that mean?

Construction trades provide high-paid, no-debt career paths with retirement, health care, and equitable wages. Typical construction trade earnings exceed a typical college graduate. While earnings may be reported differently by various sources, most resources show similar patterns:

Examples of annualized wages for those that complete union apprenticeship in Seattle and King County

  • Carpenter, Journey union $84,635 ($23 an hour) Source Washington State Labor Council, Jan 2019, Evan Woods of Olympic Analytics)
  • Pipe-fitters, Journey union $88,130 ($46 an hour)
  • Bachelor of Arts degree $49,000 (Source ZipRecruiter)

What about African American youth?

The Seattle School Board understands that Black youth have particular stress attaining a positive career pathway. This program is designed to welcome Black youth, families and support services and use familiar community connections to bring interested Black youth into the training and employment tracks.

Education or training for construction work

What is a Pre-Apprentice Program?

There are many pre-apprentice programs already in Seattle. They train people to understand construction work, the basics, they teach them work culture like showing up on time and also the basic construction skills and use of tools.

How can I attend a Pre-Apprentice Program?

These programs are often 3 to 4 months. There are many in the Seattle area. A guidebook to all of them helps you sort through the one most convenient for you. In future years, students who are not yet 18 will also be able to attend a program within one of several SPS high schools.

The school district is going to also add their own Pre-Apprenticeship program in 2021-22. Why add yet another program through CTE? How is the SPS Pre-Apprentice program different?

CTE is launching (in 2021-2022) the CTE program that will offer this same training that prepares students for this work. However, it creates special opportunities for our SPS high school students. Currently, the programs around Seattle are very good but you usually have to be 18 years old to participate. The schools have permission to train a younger student.

How are people being recruited into pre-apprentice and apprentice programs?

SPS is working closely with local community associations and other local agencies, as well as SPS families and partners to ensure families and students are aware of the opportunities, training and employment connected to this SCWA. Our local programs have outreach methods they use to recruit students.

Working on a construction job questions

After you finish your pre-apprenticeship program and are 18 or older, you will be eligible to consider the trades that you are qualified to pursue and to seek entry into their apprenticeship program. The Apprentice Guidebook is a comprehensive resource that identifies all the available choices and qualifications to enroll.

Who hires workers that graduate from a pre-apprentice program?

Our region has many companies that work on both private residential and commercial construction, as well as on public construction. Your skills and qualifications will allow you to consider work on any of those sectors.

Studies indicate that there is significant demand for construction workers, that we may well encounter a shortage of workers in the coming years. Those that train are likely to have robust opportunities for work, unless we have a significant economic change in the otherwise anticipated construction industry.

For Seattle Public School renovations and construction projects, we will require our contractors to seek out and hire former SPS students, wage earners, diverse candidates and others.

Construction can be a challenging environment. How do you create a welcome and friendly construction environment for Black and other People of Color?

SPS construction contracts will include have provisions to ensure an appropriate worksite for all workers. The Acceptable Worksite contract language launches on Nov. 1, 2020. This will help all people of color and any on the gender or sexual orientation spectrum. AS we learn more from workers, we can add additional ways to keep the workplace safe.

What about those who seek a LGBTQIA+ friendly environment and workplace?

The Seattle School Board seeks to ensure these new construction training and employment opportunities are welcoming to the LGBTQIA+ and to women. SPS is discussing ways to help construction companies offer a welcome worksite that respects the full spectrum of worker identities. We expect some possibilities to emerge during 2021 as we work with experts and workers to find the needs and solutions.

How are people being recruited into pre-apprentice and apprentice programs?

SPS is working closely with local community associations and other local agencies, as well as SPS families and partners to ensure families and students are aware of the opportunities, training and employment connected to this SCWA. Our local programs have outreach methods they use to recruit students.

Who should I call for more information?

Please download our primer and the Apprentice Guidebook as your first resources in exploring this program and career resources.

Please contact Harvey Wright, Seattle Public Schools, Career and Technical Education program at 206-683-9352 or email hwwright@seattleschools.org.