(OLYMPIA, Wash.) The Centers of Excellence announced today that 2014 marks the 10th year anniversary of their founding.

Ten years ago, the Centers of Excellence were established by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and in 2009, they were codified by the state Legislature. The centers are flagship institutions that build and sustain Washington’s competitive advantage through statewide leadership. Each center focuses on a targeted industry that drives the state’s economy and is built upon a reputation for fast, flexible and responsive workforce development to support education and training programs.

Centers have led and supported the development of rigorous skills standards to meet industry training needs, collaborated on grant projects to support workforce training and are involved with national boards and organizations. They ensure that leading edge thinking, best practices and technologies are introduced into the community and technical college system.

“Since their inception, Centers of Excellence have been at the forefront of our community and technical college system’s strategy to better supply business and industry partners with highly skilled, workforce-ready graduates,” Jim Crabbe, SBCTC’s director of workforce education, said. “Our centers convene stakeholders, problem solve, and disseminate their solutions to the 34 colleges in our system, sharpening Washington’s competitive edge. It has been a journey of continuous improvement over the past 10 years and the sky is the limit.”

Today, the centers continue to lead workforce and economic development strategies for the community and technical college system. For example, the centers have supported a “pathway” model that organizes curricula into series of stackable, integrated credentials within various professional interest areas. This approach gives students the opportunity to move from short-term certificates to associate degrees and, ultimately, to baccalaureate and higher-level studies within their chosen career paths, continually increasing their earning power as they upgrade at every level. Today’s Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degrees are taking this approach one step further, providing a predictable, efficient path to a bachelor’s degree for students who hold professional-technical associate degrees.

The 10 centers serving Washington’s community and technical college system are: Agriculture hosted at Walla Walla Community College, Allied Health at Yakima Valley Community College, Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing at Everett Community College, Clean Energy at Centralia College, Construction at Renton Technical College, Education at Green River Community College, Homeland Security Emergency Management at Pierce College, Information and Computing Technology at Bellevue College, Global Trade and Supply Chain Management at Highline College, and Marine Manufacturing and Technology at Skagit Valley College. For more information, visit www.coewa.com.

About the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges: The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges is led by a Governor-appointed board and provides leadership, advocacy, and coordination for Washington’s system of 34 public community and technical colleges. Each year, nearly 400,000 students train for the workforce, prepare to transfer to a university, gain basic math and English skills, or pursue continuing education. Visit our website at SBCTC.edu.