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Career Launch

Positioning Young Adults for Promising Careers

Part of the Career Connect Washington initiative, Career Launch programs provide students with real-life work experience related to their classroom studies. Students graduate with skills to be competitive in the job market and with a valuable credential beyond a high school diploma.

Career Connect Washington describes Career Launch as “the most intensive type of career connected learning program.” Its goal: to have 60 percent of young adults beginning in the class of 2030 participate in a career launch program.

Career Launch programs can include:

  • Registered apprenticeships (automatic Career Launch endorsement). View the list of active apprenticeship programs.
  • A post-secondary institution participating in the Washington College Grant, College Bound Scholarship or Passport programs with a paid work-based learning component as a credentials requirement.
  • A secondary career and technical education program that meet credential requirements and include a work-based component.

Mandatory Criteria

"Career Launch programs: Positioning young adults for promising careers. Mandatory criteria include 1. Meaningful, high quality on-the-job experience with the following attributes: at worksite, paid and academic credit, occupation-aligned, employer supervisor at ratio typical of occupation, defined competencies and skills gained, and full compliance with existing legal regulations. 2. Aligned classroom learning with the following attributes: open-source curriculum and program requirements developed in partnership with employers and industry, aligned with academic and employer standards, qualified instructors, and dedicated student academic and career support. Criteria points 1. and 2. produce competitive candidates who are able to continue in employment or successfully compete for jobs leading to financially-sustainable and fulfilling careers, and provides a valuable credential beyond high school diploma for the credential attained or significant progress of at least one year towards a two- or four-year credential."

Endorsement Needed

To be designated as a Career Launch program, the program must first be endorsed. This endorsement also unlocks the door for certain types of state funding. Learn more about the endorsement and the program review process.


There are three types of targeted funding for Career Launch programs:

  • Career Launch development or expansion
  • Career Launch enrollment growth
  • Career Launch equipment

Learn more about these funding opportunities and how to apply for each.

Career Launch Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Gov. Jay Inslee launched Career Connect Washington (CCW) in 2017 to help young people gain valuable, real-life work experience while they study. This ensures students receive not only high-quality classroom instruction, but hands-on work experience that helps them start a career with employers looking to hire. Career Connect Washington brings together higher education, business and industry leaders, government and state agencies, labor leaders, community leaders and nonprofits, and regional leaders to find ways to better link education and work. The Legislature provided funding for Career Connect Washington during the 2019 legislative session.

Anyone! Programs will prepare people of all ages and all backgrounds to enter the workforce. The Career Launch endorsement is an added designation showing that program is specially able to train students at the start of their working careers.

Community and technical colleges can get involved in Career Connect Washington by receiving program-level Career Launch endorsements, or by partnering with regional networks intended to coordinate community efforts toward career connected learning. Regional networks are organized through the Employment Security Department.

To receive the Career Launch endorsement, you will need to complete the Career Launch Endorsement Review (CLER) application. Learn more about Career Launch endorsements.

Registered apprenticeships are automatically considered Career Launch programs and do not need to apply for the endorsement.

Once your program’s application is received, the CLER team will review the application and endorse the program, ask further questions, or provide feedback for revisions. Programs will be notified of approval or the need for additional information within two weeks for the CLER meeting in which the application was reviewed.

Learn more about Career Launch funding opportunities.

Three types of state funding are available for Career Launch programs. 

Learn more about Career Launch funding opportunities.


Genevieve Howard
Policy Associate, Workforce Education

Karin Gitchel
Program Administrator, Workforce Education 

Page Manager:
Last Modified: 2/28/24, 12:47 PM

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