Community and Technical Colleges in Washington

Economic impacts

Community and technical colleges play a key role in helping Washington's economy recover. Even now, during times of economic downturn, a quick glance at job announcements across the state shows there is a shortage of qualified workers in many areas, including auto mechanics, health care, transportation, and science technology. These are all areas that community and technical colleges currently provide education and training.

Emily Estep, former SCC student.
Former SCC student Emily Estep received a Bachelor's degree from Western Washington University and is now teaching Spanish at a Puget Sound area high school.

Community and technical colleges
deliver education and training for jobs

  • Sixty percent of today's jobs require education or training beyond high school and that percentage is rising.
  • The largest number of future job openings will be in occupations that require professional-technical training beyond high school, but less than a bachelor's degree.
  • These jobs pay well and do not offshore easily.
  • Community and technical colleges provide 80 percent of this employment training in Washington.
  • A majority of teachers in Washington attended community colleges.
  • Community colleges prepare most of the nation's registered nurses.

At the peak of the state's previous economic downturn in 2002-03, 17,000 laid-off workers turned to community and technical colleges for Worker Retraining.  Within a few months of completing their program, 80 percent of these workers had returned to employment and nearly half of those were hired into jobs that paid higher wages than the jobs they lost.  Employment retraining programs got citizens back to work in the last recession and community and technical colleges are ready to do it again. 


The Job Skills Program provides short-term training, customized to meet a business or industry's specific needs. This dollar for dollar matching grant program serves both new and current employees and plays a significant role in helping businesses build and retain a quality workforce.


Talent and skills determine the competitive edge in today's global market, yet in Washington, 400,000 working adults do not have a high school diploma and an additional 1.1 million lack education beyond high school.  These adults need to gain higher levels of education and training to fill high demand jobs within critical industries in our state.  The success of Washington's workforce depends on it.  Opportunity Grants provide funding for low-income adults to attend college in specific high-demand, high-wage career pathways. 


Historically, new industries emerge at the other end of a deep recession.  With High Demand enrollments, community and technical colleges will be prepared to train the workers of tomorrow for emerging clean energy jobs, like wind and solar power and bio-fuels as well as training for existing jobs that will require new, green-economy skills in industries such as construction and manufacturing.