by Jason Argo (crossposted from the KC Employees News blog)

The first graduates from an innovative new program that helps employees get a key credential for moving their careers forward were recognized by King County Executive Dow Constantine and Metro General Manager Rob Gannon at a small ceremony this week.

Through a partnership between King County Metro, South Seattle College, and the Amalgamated Transit Union 587, a customized curriculum was created that helped frontline employees train for and apply for their Commercial Driver’s License, an essential requirement for advancing to other positions in the County as well as across Washington.

“We shouldn’t think of this as extraordinary,” Executive Constantine said. “This is what we should have been doing, what we should be doing, and what we have committed to doing much more of – providing equitable opportunities for all of our employees to get the skills, get the training, get the credentials that they need to pursue their dreams.”

The pilot program included a customized classroom and driving curriculum and also provided support for specific needs identified for employees in this workgroup, such as English proficiency and preparing for the CDL permit test. The pilot’s first participants worked in facilities management and custodial roles at King County.

“It’s not just the idea of a CDL, it’s what that represents; it’s an opportunity to grow and develop in itself but also to advance in the organization,” Metro General Manager Rob Gannon said. “I couldn’t be prouder of what you [program graduates] have accomplished but it also represents what we as an organization can accomplish.”

The four pilot graduates – Stevon Lenued, Tsegay Negash, John Keith and Jaime Gonzalez – have already begun or accepted Utility Laborer or Utility Worker roles at the County with their new accreditations, while a fifth, Nouane Thepvongsa, is working towards graduation.

Metro and its partners are now reviewing the results of the pilot to see how it can be adapted and expanded moving forward. The model will also help to inform Metro’s development of other apprenticeship and short-term training programs in the future.

Helping employees plot a career path and give them the support and resources to reach their goals is part of King County’s Investing in You strategy.