Three years back, Bush sat in the state women’s prison in Purdy, finishing seven and a half years for an armed-robbery conviction. The former addict dropped out of school in seventh grade–“Me and school, we never saw eye to eye,” she says–was convicted of her first felony at 13, had a child at 15, and was sent to prison at 19.
But when it took her just six months to complete her GED in Purdy, the instructors asked her to be valedictorian at the graduation ceremony and to start thinking about college. When she got a chance to fight fires with a prison brigade instead of cleaning toilets, she jumped on it and made the discovery that “I loved hard work. I’d never worked a day in my life. You hike up the forest, you chain-saw trees all day. It’s hard–really hard–just like being an ironworker. But I loved coming back and being tired.”
Now Bush is one of 209 people learning the ironworking trade through apprenticeships like this one and others run by the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, a state-funded partnership among community colleges, industry and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, at a time when skilled workers are needed by Boeing and the rest of the aerospace industry in Seattle and to help build a $4 billion replacement for the floating 520 Bridge over Lake Washington.
Choosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor from