Commerce grants $100K to help launch new marine systems job training program in Port Townsend

EDC Team Jefferson, maritime industry team up with Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding to address high demand for skilled marine systems technicians

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce has awarded a $100,000 WorkStart grant to help the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding (NWSWB) launch a new marine systems training program in Port Townsend. A recent update to the state’s Maritime Industry Cluster Study found that marine systems technicians are in critically short supply, forcing some local companies to turn away work, and to seek or train workers out of state to get the skills necessary to keep their businesses competitive.

“These funds will help our workforce remain connected to our state’s maritime roots. This program will allow more companies with critical workforce needs to succeed,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender.

Washington’s diverse maritime industry directly contributes over 69,000 jobs and has a combined economic impact over $37 billion annually, reaching from urban centers to rural towns up and down the state’s working waterfronts.

EDC Team Jefferson – the economic development council for Jefferson County – requested funding for the industry-prioritized marine vessel systems curriculum at NWSWB. Students will receive intensive hands-on training in topics such as basic electrical, marine diesel engines, propulsion, steering and controls, and marine plumbing.

“Our local maritime industry continues to be a key driving force for our economy. This grant opportunity from Commerce will help build resiliency for this sector by keeping our workforce effectively trained to meet current and future demand,” said Team Jefferson executive director Brian Kuh.

“The diverse maritime industry in Washington State provides family-wage jobs on the Olympic Peninsula and across the state. The industry needs a well-trained technician workforce to be competitive and grow. The school’s plan to expand curricula to include vessel systems aligns perfectly with industry demand and the skill sets needed to enter the marine trades workforce,” said Ann Avary, director of the Northwest Center of Excellence for Marine Manufacturing and Technology.

“NWSWB works closely with the industry. Over its 35-year history, our graduates have built successful businesses and hired other graduates,” said NWSWB executive director Betsy Davis. “This program will become an important, sustainable component of the marine trades on Port Townsend Bay.”

“The Port of Port Townsend considers vocational training to be a key ingredient in building a thriving local economy,” wrote Sam Gibboney, Executive Director of the Port of Port Townsend.  “Many businesses in Boat Haven have hired graduates of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding over the years.  The new Marine Systems Curriculum is highly relevant to the work going on in the Port today.”


Penny Thomas, Commerce Communications, 206-256-6106

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