In the News

WSOS addresses worker shortage by investing in education and training for high-demand fields

By Veronica Cracker

In the next five years, Washington state will add an estimated 373,000 new jobs — 70 percent of which will be filled by workers with post-secondary education. Unfortunately, an aging population and fewer young people entering the workforce could exacerbate labor shortages. Industries such as manufacturing, construction, transportation, and health care are heavily affected. In these industries, the aging workforce is retiring faster than younger workers are entering, resulting in a skills gap that employers are struggling to fill. 

That is where Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) steps in. WSOS is the first public-private scholarship program dedicated to building lasting pathways to secondary education and high-demand STEM, health care, and trade careers for all Washington students. We accelerate equitable change for historically excluded students while increasing the local talent pool for Washington businesses. By investing in the education and training of future workers in Washington state, WSOS is helping to address the worker shortage problem in several ways:

  1. Investing in rural communities: Students in rural areas face unique challenges, such as limited access to transportation or technology. To address workforce shortages in rural communities, WSOS has launched the Rural Jobs Initiative. This program provides funding for students pursuing degrees in high-demand fields critical to rural economies, such as health care, agriculture, forestry, and manufacturing. 
  2. Helping to reduce financial barriers to education: The high cost of post-secondary education is a significant barrier for many students. WSOS provides financial assistance to help students overcome these barriers and focus on their education, which can increase the number of students who complete their degrees and enter the workforce.  
  3. Supporting students through mentorship and networking: WSOS provides support beyond financial assistance, including mentorship, networking opportunities and professional development. This support can help students build the skills and connections they need to succeed in their careers, leading to a more robust and skilled workforce in these fields. Most of our recipients are first-generation college students, women, and students of color — and all want a high-demand, family-sustaining wage career in Washington state. 

WSOS is on a mission to tackle the worker shortage problem by making significant investments in the education and training of Washington students.  

Are you interested in supporting our mission of strengthening Washington’s workforce? If so, please check out our partner pages to learn how you can play a part in changing the lives of Washington students.