Closing the Skills Gap

Only 40 percent of high school graduates go on to get the advanced degree, certificate, or training needed to fill 70 percent of the available jobs.

Industry’s Essential Role

Hiring and retaining qualified employees has become more and more difficult. Employers need a well-prepared workforce. Students need paths to meaningful, family-wage jobs.

Educators alone can’t meet this need. They are eager to integrate career-connected learning into the classroom and beyond, but it takes industry—employers and labor—to create work-based experiences. These experiences can be as simple as participating in career days or as structured as apprenticeships. Here’s how one business partnered with schools and a local organization to create a pipeline of skilled, eager employee candidates.


WABS partnered with T-Mobile, Edmonds School District, Seattle Public Schools, Edmonds College, and Seattle Colleges to create a Career Launch program to help high school seniors work toward careers as full-stack software developers. This job at T-Mobile has an average starting salary of about $85,000 and typically would require a four-year degree. T-Mobile worked with the Edmonds School District and Edmonds College to create a two-year program that leads to an initial early-career position starting around $70,000 with T-Mobile. With employee tuition-reimbursement, students can move into the software developer position within 2-years of hire with very little to no college debt and an annual salary of $70,000 while they finish their degree.

During the initial 2-year Career Launch, students participate in two paid summer internships at T-Mobile and earn a 59-credit full stack developer certificate through the college. T-Mobile’s managers and employees mentor the students in a cohort model. The first cohort started in 2020 with subsequent cohorts beginning each year since. In 2023, the program is expanding to add pathways in Cybersecurity and UX Design.


Employers do not have to develop career-connected programs on their own. The Healthcare Industry Leadership Table is an early example of a self-convened network of healthcare organizations in the Seattle-King County area who came together to share and take action on improving access to a skilled healthcare workforce. Similar efforts are underway in Pierce County. Other industries also are looking at this as a model for pooling their talent and efforts.


Career Prep On-site Work Based Learning (WBL) is a proven workforce development strategy that supplements classroom learning with experiences that introduce students to the world of work through a collaborative partnership between schools and a participating employer. On-site WBL may include tours, job shadows, internships, or work experience.


Workforce Development:

Introduce students to your business and industry

Develop early relationships with candidates for future full-time employment

Build, diversify, and retain your future workforce

Business Development:

Benefit from productive student work

Gain the perspectives of a young people to help grow your business

Provide leadership and mentorship opportunities for your current workers

Community Development:

Enhance team morale by making a difference in the lives of young people

Gain the perspectives of a young people to help grow your business

Provide leadership and mentorship opportunities for your current workers

The Career Connect Washington Regional Network for King and Pierce Counties offers a continuum of WBL opportunities for employers to connect with thousands of high school students, which represent your emerging workforce.

Learn more: [email protected] 

Connect with regional opportunities!

We connect industry with schools and intermediary organizations to participate in creating career-connected learning programs in King and Pierce counties.