Bellingham Technical College (BTC) is located in Whatcom County, a suburban/rural area in the northwest of Washington State, with a 19.6% youth unemployment rate. The College serves over 1,500 students between the ages of 18 and 24, many of whom are first-time college students. Most students are from rural areas and have recently graduated, dropped out of high school or are entering BTC a few years after high school graduation. BTC’s manufacturing programs train youth with disabilities as well as those who are academically and economically disadvantaged. Approximately 80% of BTC’s students qualify for federal or state financial aid. As a participant in the Alcoa Foundation’s Global Internship Program for Unemployed Youth, BTC will receive $125,000 to provide a customized workforce development program for 50 of its students.
BTC’s workforce development program will consist of two primary components:
1. Paid Internships:
Students will participate in internships with manufacturing industry partners. Experiences will be arranged by program faculty, working in close collaboration with the project coordinator. This work will be facilitated through existing program connections with manufacturers and by the quarterly career fairs that will be developed to allow for further networking among faculty, staff and student participants. Internship sites will provide safety training, facilitate job-shadowing opportunities and other hands-on activities for their interns. With the assistance of their industry mentors, interns will be responsible for producing a capstone report at the conclusion of their internship.
2. Internship Companion Course:
Required for all participants, this course will include both classroom instruction and project-based work to assist students in developing communication and leadership skills. This course will include workforce readiness and counseling content, as well as career planning and placement assistance. There will also be a strong focus on building critical skills for career research, job searching, networking, and the application spectrum.
This workforce development program will allow BTC manufacturing programs to develop and strengthen their support services for low-income students to enable them to better support themselves and their families while learning essential skills and creating important relationships within the industry.