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Five people wearing yellow vests and hard hats stand in a line on a construction site.
Media Caption
The Summer 2022 Palmer Pathways cohort tours a future light rail station by the Federal Way Transit Center with their instructor Ken McGlauflin (second from right).

Celebrating the workforce of the future on Labor Day

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When you’re starting out in the construction trades, it’s not about how much you know, but how hard you try to learn it.  

That was one of many key pieces of advice that carpenters, engineers and labor specialists gave to young people when they toured a Sound Transit construction site in late August.  

While walking the guideway of the future Federal Link Extension, a cohort from the Palmer Pathways pre-apprenticeship program had a chance to ask questions and get guidance from representatives from Sound Transit and our contractor, Kiewit.  

A construction worker explains a concept to young people of color touring the site.
Kiewit’s Jason Silva answers questions from the Palmer Pathways cohort on our job site in Federal Way.

The Federal Way Link Extension adds almost eight miles to our regional light rail network. Sound Transit is currently building more than 40 miles of rail and 28 new stations, and we need a skilled workforce to deliver these important projects. 

As Labor Day approaches, we celebrate the people hard at work to connect more people to more places in our region.  

If you’re interested in the trades, you can learn more about pre-apprenticeship on our website or check out the 2022 Construction Apprenticeship Guidebook.  

A group of people wearing protective gear walk along a light rail guideway under construction.
Walking along the guideway near the Federal Way Transit Center.

We partner with many local organizations that run construction job training programs, including Palmer Pathways, to develop the workforce of the future. 

Sound Transit’s Project Labor Agreements set the apprenticeship utilization goal at 20 percent of the total construction hours worked - a high standard for projects.  

This ensures that there are opportunities for workers who want to get into the construction trades and that there is a ready and able supply of trained candidates. 

Based out of Lakewood, Palmer Pathways responds to the growing workforce needs in Pierce County by guiding young adults of color between the ages of 18-26 into meaningful family-wage careers like the construction trades.  

It's a great career path; $65,598 is the average starting salary for a meter apprentice, according to Palmer Pathways. And their training program is free. 

This cohort is getting ready to graduate on Sept. 7, after earning six certifications, learning construction skills and math, and having try-a-trade experiences, site visits and meetings with union and employer representatives. 

It’s only fitting that they were able to tour the transit project that will connect South King County and Pierce County to the rest of the region via fast, dependable light rail service.  

A group photo of people wearing construction gear, including vests and hard hats.
The Palmer Pathways cohort smiles with representatives from Kiewit and Sound Transit.

Pathways to the trades 

Sound Transit works with organizations like Palmer Pathways, ANEW, TRAC and more throughout the region to make sure our job sites have the skilled labor needed to expand your mass transit system over the next 25 years. 

The agency is invested in several construction training programs around the Puget Sound, including those that serve women, people of color and other diverse groups.  

Hopefully this isn’t the first time you’ve come across our stories about pre-apprenticeship programs. For more, check out: 

Be part of rebuilding our region’s economy 

Women power progress on Sound Transit construction sites  

Sound Transit helping power the regional construction workforce 

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