Education and Talent
Spokane County is the largest labor market in eastern Washington and northern Idaho and is home to a full spectrum of both public and private higher education institutions including a multifaceted University District in downtown Spokane. Approximately 77,000 students study at area colleges and universities within an 70-mile radius of Spokane, directly building the talent pool for the region. Working with the business community, the Inland Northwest universities and colleges function collaboratively to support student success and provide the talent to meet the needs of industry.
In addition, Spokane County is home to 14 school districts and 60 private schools offering K-12 options, charter schools, STEM academies, focused skills centers, and bilingual programs. The Spokane community puts a priority on education with a goal of increasing the proportion of residents with high-quality degrees or certificates from 40 percent to 60 percent by 2025.
Talent Supports Statewide
Washington also offers statewide talent programs to support the initial and ongoing recruitment needs of employers.
- The Job Skills Program provides funding for customized, short-term and job-specific training for eligible businesses using dollar-for-dollar matching grants. The program supports new employee training, current employee retraining, current employee upgrading and industry initiatives.
- Washington state’s Centers of Excellence represent specific industry sectors and link business, industry and labor to the education system to develop a skilled workforce.
- Through the Washington Customized Training Program, eligible businesses receive interest-free training loan assistance to businesses that provide employment opportunities in the state. The level of customization ranges from existing training curriculum delivered at the job site to fully customized training curriculum developed exclusively for the business.
- Choose Washington offers Washington businesses a one-stop resource for employee training through public-private partnerships and at community and technical colleges across the state. Employee training programs can be designed and delivered to requested specifications for business-dedicated training.
Local Talent Support
The Spokane region offers programs to benefit all stages of training and ensure the continued development of a highly engaged, motivated workforce equipped with ready-to-work skills.
The Community Colleges of Spokane's Center for Workforce & Continuing Education offers courses designed to meet the needs of business and industry while advancing the skills of the regional workforce.
The Spokane Workforce Council offers services to assist with recruiting and hiring needs, including job posting and screening, assessment testing and on-the-job training.
Impact Washington connects manufacturers to grants and loans, export vouchers and job skills programs.
Key pieces to the Spokane Region are unique business and education partnerships that are producing innovative talent strategies for the region.
- Spokane STEM Network – Agile innovative talent development through STEM skills.
- Career Connect Washington – Career connected learning through awareness & exploration, career prep and career launch opportunities.
- Greater Minds – Employers and adult students working together to complete a college degree.
- SWC Internship Platform – A tool for businesses to use to launch and organize their own internship program.
- access2experience – Connecting educators with willing professionals via an online platform.
- Business AfterSchool – Students experience the workplace and learn about future high-demand industries and career opportunities.
- Teaching the Teachers – Educators spend time in local businesses and learn about future career opportunities for their business.
The local colleges and universities work collaboratively with one another and with the regional business community to support workforce development, research and lifestyle initiatives to advance economic growth. A broad range of course offerings and programs from six-week classes focused on technical requirements of specific industries to graduate and doctoral studies prepare the next generation of professionals. The breadth of offerings serve the educational needs of diverse student populations as well as the broad workforce development requirements of new and established businesses.