Sen. Lisa Wellman, D-Mercer Island, spoke at the Career Connect Washington kickoff in Renton on Thursday.

Wellman, chair of the Senate Early Learning and K-12 Education Committee, voiced her support for connecting Washington’s 1.1 million students with real work experience.

Career Connect Washington is an initiative that brings government and the private sector together to offer programs that allow students to explore and discover jobs and careers that inspire them to grow and succeed. Learn more about CCW here.

Sen. Wellman’s full remarks:

The state of Washington has long recognized the value of “hands on” education of “work integrated learning”. We’ve had Skill Centers since the 1970’s and have an established program of registered apprenticeships.

But these have been targeted initiatives and localized programs.

Now to respond to the needs of the 1.1 million students in our elementary schools, the time has come of invest in operationalizing these avenues to participation in a 21st Century economy. We need to build a new integrated SYSTEM from within our current education system.

I’ve visited a number of career connected operations and have seen the buy-in by parents, educators and especially students.

The work that Maud and her team have done is exceptional. They listened.

I particularly commend them on paying attention to those barriers that affect our rural students and making sure this effort is directed at and will make a difference for those across our state for whom it is most needed and will be most significant.