Yakima, WA - The aerospace industry in Yakima continues to grow, with three companies providing over 700 local jobs. One issue they all face is difficulty in hiring skilled machinists.
“The industry continues to grow," says Joe Glover, President of Pexco Aerospace in Union Gap. "We’re on a seven year hike of continued growth year over year and one of the biggest challenges we have is fielding skilled labor.”
Pexco manufactures plastic parts for aircraft interiors, and they are the world's largest provider of those parts, according to Glover, who admits he's amused at how few residents in the Yakima Valley know about the company.
“It’s always interesting to me to find out that here we are a top twelve employer in the valley, and most people have never heard of us," he says.
Pexco is joined by CubCrafters and Triumph Actuation Systems in Yakima as major employers in the field, but the advanced, expensive machines that are essential to their work are difficult to operate, and skilled machinists are in high demand.
Glover states that an entry-level machinist can expect benefits and paid vacations, as well as a paycheck that is "well beyond minimum wage."
He stresses the importance of local higher education institutions in training the future workforce, saying, "it’s really important for us to be able to partner with local colleges to be able to be able to find that skilled labor so that we can grow with the industry.”
Yakima Valley College is one institution helping fill the need, with an Aerospace Machining Program that offers an associates degree, and two certificate options.
"The advantage for them to come through YVC is the focus on the modern machines, they are highly capable machines, we try to train on every aspect of it," explains Jeffrey Britz, a part time instructor in YVC's Aerospace Machining Technology program.
For more information on the program, visit YVC online at www.yvcc.edu