To: NW Council
From: NW Legislative and Public Affairs Committee
The Washington Aerospace Partnership commissioned a study on Washington’s competitive edge in the aerospace industry in response to the Boeing announcement that the 737MAX could be built in another state.
The consulting firm, Accenture, published the findings on November 15, 2011. While concluding that Renton was the most advantageous location to produce the 737MAX, it recommended several investments to reinforce Washington competitive edge, including:
· strengthening post-high school aerospace certification and apprenticeships related to aerospace manufacturing;
· increasing the number of high quality engineering graduates and expand aerospace-relevant research from UW and WSU;
· improving readiness of high school students to meet aerospace demands via investments in STEM learning and programs such as Launch Year;
· strengthen aerospace manufacturing research by extending tax credits for investments and research while supporting targeted infrastructure improvements; and,
· continue to develop positive and productive relationships between government, Boeing, its suppliers and organized labor.
These recommendations culminated in several legislative proposals during the 2011 special session of the Washington State Legislature, including: SB 5973, SB 5975, SB 5976, SB 5982 and SB 5983 (and companion bills in the House). Additionally, the Governor proposed $7.6 million to be split equally between WSU and UW to increase engineering FTEs (“full time equivalent” student slots) by 425 in each institution.
Three of these bills passed during special session. They focused on grants to high schools and skills centers to invest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning and to revise teacher certifications in these areas.
Before and after publication of the Accenture Competitiveness Study (http://www.aerospace-partnership.com), SPEEA has drawn attention to the transition from education to employment. We want employers to provide internships and employment opportunities to students and graduates from our training and educational programs. We are also looking at lifelong learning and educational resources for mid-career employees.
The remaining proposals to be considered during the 2012 session extend tax credits for qualified aerospace product development, better coordinate workforce training for aerospace materials manufacturing via the Center of Excellence, and create a Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation. Additionally, the $7.6 million dollar investment in engineering FTEs at WSU and UW will be considered during the 2012 session.
The Accenture study found that other states are investing at a greater rate than Washington in the aerospace industry via tax incentives, workforce development, public-private partnerships, and other efforts. Despite the announcement that the 737MAX will be produced in Renton, there will be considerable focus in the State Legislature on building up Washington’s long-term competitive edge in aerospace.
Impact to SPEEA
SPEEA is a key member of the Washington Aerospace Partnership and contributed $100,000 toward the completion of the Accenture study, arguing that our capable and effective workforce is part of our competitive advantage in Washington State. The medium-term and long-term risks of relocating work to another state or country remains a major concern for our members. Furthermore, SPEEA supports state-wide efforts to attract other major manufacturers and downstream suppliers to Washington.
· Engaging in the policy recommendations from the Accenture study is an extension of the commitment SPEEA made via the $100,000 contribution to ensure Washington’s lead in the industry.
· Industry, higher education and local governments are currently steering the conversations around technical investments and accountability and long-term effectiveness will not be a focus without labor at the table.
· There are several proposed advisory boards associated with these initiatives that SPEEA should be considered for and more likely will be if we engage in the legislative process.
· Funding for WSU and UW engineering FTEs may be controversial because other universities weren’t included.
· As the overall budget is cut, proposed aerospace investments may be seen as competing with funding for social services, and other educational programs.
· We may make investments in training and education, but we are not certain that jobs will be available for students once they graduate.