ANEW Look at Careers in the Trades with the Thurston County Chamber and City of Olympia


When looking at employment patterns, there’s an ideal trifecta: a need within the community, willing jobseekers and the training they need to succeed. Hiring locally has all the benefits of shopping locally. Money stays in the region and families make a living-wage in their chosen hometown. Recently the City of Olympia partnered with the Thurston County Chamber and ANEW to do just that and it’s paying off at Construction Bootcamp.

9 people stand smiling for the camera in front of an white ANEW sign that says, 'ANEW: building people, building community."
ANEW provides training in the trades thanks to Construction Bootcamp which is funded by the City of Olympia and supported by the Thurston County Chamber. Photo credit: Shanna Paxton Photography

ANEW Provides Hands-On Job Training in Olympia with Real Results

Micah Pong, a project manager with the Chamber, explains that under the umbrella of the Olympia Career Hub, they and the city work with ANEW, the largest pre-apprenticeship provider in Washington State and the nation. ANEW provides the training, classes are funded by the City and the Chamber supports programming. Other partners include the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council and Olympia Master Builders. In 2023, they’re hoping to graduate five cohorts of Construction Bootcamp graduates who find work on day one, thanks to a job fair of eager local employers.

“We call it bootcamp for a reason,” says Pong. “There’s a lot of physical fitness like the real jobs and it’s designed to be a true job readiness program.” ANEW’s monthlong, 40-hours-a-week sessions combine not only day-to-day duties but real world, relevant math instruction and soft skills like interview preparation and resume writing.

After bootcamp finishes, participants have earned their statewide OSHA-10 Safety, forklift operator and flagger certifications. They can then proceed to a hiring event with interviews, and even job offers, on the spot.

two people in hard hats looking at a woman holding an open binder and looking down while a fourth person with a hard hat is on a ladder under a house eve
After a month-long intensive training, graduates have their statewide OSHA-10 Safety, forklift operator and flagger certifications and valuable skills for a new career. Photo credit: Shanna Paxton Photography

Healthy Employment Equals Economic Recovery

“During COVID,” says Mike Reid, City of Olympia’s economic development director, “we saw such significant workforce disruption. A lot of folks were looking for – and wanting – to make real changes. Making that happen became an objective of economic recovery. We want to build the economy we want for our future.”

The Olympia Career Hub was created to teach skill building, trade objectives and the important steps that keep family-wage, hands-on trade jobs within our area. “The City loves Construction Bootcamp, it ties to very definitive needs,” says Reid. “We have a resident base who wants these career skills and a tremendous need for skilled workers. This is also the right kind of labor to help address housing affordability issues. Improved career pathways plus meeting labor demands are a perfect marriage.”

Of the 18 individuals in their current cohort, two are tribal members, five identify as unhoused and three are military veterans. Attendees span every age demographic from teenagers to workers in their 60’s. “It’s really powerful to see such a mix of residents,” says Reid. “I’m incredibly proud of the City for stepping into a space like this and really excited to see the City support residents and meet their needs.”

one person kneels on scaffolding low to the ground while another person talks to her, gesturing with her arms.
Construction Bootcamp is free and currently enrolling for two additional cohorts in 2023. Photo credit: Shanna Paxton Photography

It’s Time for ANEW Job or Career Change

Construction bootcamp is free to residents of the City of Olympia and members of the Squaxin Island Tribe. But everyone is welcome to apply. Pong and his team at the Chamber will assist applicants in pursuing funding opportunities like WorkSourceWA for non-residents to cover the costs.

“This is really a community effort about building partnerships,” says Pong. “If we invest in giving people the skills and connection with employers, we’re providing a pipeline and career path. The CIty believes in funding programs that invest in their constituency.” To enroll, applicants must simply be over 18, have a high school diploma or GED and be able to lift 50 pounds.

Two cohorts have graduated, one is currently in training, and there are two more sessions on the calendar this year. The summer and fall sessions are accepting applications and the city hopes to keep this project going as long as the need remains by working to find sustainable funding sources for 2024 and beyond. “It’s powerful to see individuals make this commitment to themselves,” says Reid. “Our residents are the single greatest resource we have, and we want to grow their skills to meet local needs.”

When folks apply, Pong and his team are happy to answer questions about goals and training. Through phone interview or orientation session, they’ll explain what Bootcamp includes to make sure it’s a good match for each job seeker. You can email preliminary questions to

Are you a construction or trades-based business looking to hire? Reach out and Pong will work with you on attending the next graduation hiring event.

Register for the next Bootcamp session online and get started on ANEW career path with valuable skills and a strong future. Industry experts report that the industry is expected to grow more than 10% over the next five years with millions of job opportunities for those in the field. You, and your family, can build a fresh, financially sustainable future when you make ANEW start thanks to the City of Olympia and Thurston County Chamber.

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