Sarah Scherer

Sarah Scherer

Greater Seattle Sector Skills Academy, Class of 2016, Economic Opportunities Program

Director/Associate Dean Seattle Maritime Academy, Seattle Central College, Seattle, Washington

As a member of Greater Seattle Sector Skills Academy, Sarah hoped to complete the fellowship with a better understanding of workforce development principles and develop a network of individuals who will help and support the pathways into living/family wage jobs in the maritime industry. As a lifelong learner, she hoped to use the experience to continue to learn about her personal leadership skills and leading edges. Seattle Maritime Academy (SMA) had not used many workforce development sector strategies. The programs of SMA are in place to help bridge the skills gap in the maritime sector. According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), there is a current shortfall of about 16,500 officers, and a need for an additional 147,500 officers by 2025 to service the world merchant fleet. According to an economic impact study, in 2012 Washington’s Maritime Cluster employed more than 57,700 people directly in the state, and was responsible for $15.2 billion in gross business income in 2012. Indirect and induced Maritime jobs account for another 90,000 jobs, for a total impact of 148,000 jobs in Washington. Rather than using word of mouth and having individuals find them on the Seattle Central College website, Sarah aimed to use the partnerships made in the fellowship to highlight and market the maritime sector. The general public searching for living wage jobs simply don’t know about the maritime industry. The average wage for a mariner in Washington in 2012 was approximately $70,000. SMA is bridging the skills and education gap; we just need “on ramps” to the bridge. It is also important to begin to identify and address some of the barriers to underserved populations such as people of color, women and former military who might not even consider the maritime industry.

Sarah Scherer is a member of the Greater Seattle Sector Skills Academy Class of 2016, one of several Workforce Leadership Academies in localities across North America.

The Workforce Leadership Academies are part of the Economic Opportunity Fellows Network, a network of leadership and fellowship programs run by the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. Within this Network, EOP connects national and local leaders from across sectors — nonprofit, government, business, philanthropy, academia, and more — to advance policies and practices with the potential to help low- and moderate-income Americans thrive in today’s economy. Learn more at