Washington Governor Jay Inslee wants to develop a new normal for high school students: joining apprenticeship programs.
It's a model widely used in Switzerland, where he visited over the weekend to tour tech companies that host apprentices. He wants to create a robust apprenticeship and technical training program for young people in Washington state.
Inslee said he's very impressed with what he's seen in Switzerland. He said about 70 percent of Swiss students are in some type of training program, from which they can launch into a career or pursue higher education.
Inslee said he wants to figure out how to build a similar system here.
Inslee: "I believe we have got to stop telling our children that if they don't get a four-year degree they are a failure, and that we have to focus on giving more choices for career and technical opportunities for our students."
Switzerland's program is a collaboration, with businesses funding the apprenticeships and the government creating certificates for those who graduate.
Inslee: "Literally hundreds of Swiss business have joined together to establish apprenticeship programs that can feed the tremendous demand for a high-tech workforce here in Switzerland, and it has been very successful. The unemployment rate for young people in Switzerland is probably less than half of ours."
He said Washington's effort will need to be driven by businesses, which is why representatives from Microsoft, Amazon, the University of Washington and others traveled with him to Switzerland.
Inslee said a state task force is focused on the topic, and will deliver a report in January about next steps. He launched an effort in May called Career Connect Washington aimed at helping more students enter into registered apprenticeships and technical training programs.