King County Executive & City of Seattle Spotlight the Efforts of the Workforce Development Council

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May 22, 2019 - Reposted from the office of the King County Executive

SUMMARY

King County and City of Seattle are transforming the workforce system to connect more people to high-demand jobs. The new model will better align funding to help people who face barriers to employment and help ensure that employers have the well-trained workforce they need to remain competitive in the global economy.

STORY

King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan are transforming how the region funds employment and job training, uniting the efforts of local governments, businesses, labor and philanthropies to connect more people to high-demand jobs.

Here are highlights of the transformation:

  • Prioritize employment and training for those who face the most barriers to opportunity.

  • Improve coordination between employers, labor, and educators to make sure job seekers are prepared for the best career opportunities available right now.

  • Better align local, federal, and philanthropic funding to maximize the impact and produce better results.

“We brought together businesses, labor, philanthropies, and educators to transform the local workforce system so we can connect more people to good-paying jobs available right here, right now,” said Executive Constantine. “Together, we will remove barriers to opportunity so that more of our neighbors can participate in our region’s historic job growth, providing local employers with the well-trained talent they need to compete in the global economy.”

“This is another step forward in our work to build a regional economy with true opportunity for all,” said Mayor Durkan. “We are connecting workers with the good-paying jobs of the future and building a world-class workforce. We will continue to work with our partners across the region to address disparities in our workforce across race, disability, immigration status and other identities and ensure that prosperity is shared."

By better aligning local and federal funding through the Workforce Development Council, the new approach will maximize the $8 million in federal funds the council receives each year for employment and training. As a first step, the Workforce Development Council is awarding a combined $2.7 million this week to community-based organizations to help them connect more people to employment services.  

The model builds on the progress the region has made over the past two years by creating a single strong board that unites workforce partners and funding, prioritizing funding that promotes racial equity.

Local leaders also announced a new alliance of philanthropic organizations – including Ballmer Group, Microsoft, The Boeing Company, Seattle Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase – that will support the region’s new workforce strategy.

Connecting more people to the region’s thriving economy

While the region’s economy is strong, certain populations still have disproportionately high unemployment rates, including Latinx, Native American, and African-American populations, people with disabilities, and people reentering the workforce after incarceration. The grant funding announced today is being awarded to community-based organizations that are working to promote racial equity in the region.

The $2.7 million in grants announced today includes federal funding and more than $800,000 generated by King County’s Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy. Each of the grants can may be renewed for up to two additional years, pending fund availability. The Workforce Development Council awarded the funding to five agencies, four of which are working with a consortia of organizations, that include a total of 14 community-based organizations that will help people who are currently underserved by workforce programs. Here are a few examples:

  • YWCA will partner with Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle to provide intensive and customized career development services to African-Americans, the chronically and long term unemployed, and individuals with criminal justice involvement.

  • Pacific Associates, in partnership with Alliance of People with DisAbilities and POCAAN will provide employment, career guidance, support services, emotional support, retraining and follow-up services to people with disabilities who want to return to work.

  • TRAC Associates will partner with Pioneer Human Services to provide clients coming out of incarceration access to their Roadmap to Success class, a cognitive behavior curriculum from The Pacific Institute that was written for people who have experienced incarceration. Pioneer staff will also provide supportive services such as help accessing a driver’s license, transit passes, and interview and work clothes.

The strategies funded by these grants were informed by input King County, City of Seattle, and Workforce Development Council received when they partnered with community leaders to apply an equity lens. As a result, many of the organizations that successfully competed for funding are led by people of color. 

King County, City of Seattle, and Workforce Development Council will create a community advisory committee to ensure that communities of color are able to provide input on the priorities for this type of competitive funding. It will be the first advisory of its kind in the nation.

Tapping into a national network of philanthropic funders

The newly formed Funders Collaborative is a local alliance of philanthropic organizations that includes Ballmer Group, Microsoft, The Boeing Company, Seattle Foundation, and JP Morgan Chase. It is affiliated with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, which makes it possible for the region to tap into this national network of philanthropic organizations.

This will diversify the funding portfolio for the Workforce Development Council, which currently relies almost exclusively on federal funding.

JP Morgan Chase today announced a $600,000 grant to the Workforce Development Council that will strengthen partnerships with industry partners to make sure employment and training programs provide people with the skills that employers need by expanding the nationally recognized Next Generation Sector Partnership model. As part of their renewed New Skills at Work initiative, JPMorgan Chase will invest $350 million globally to develop, test and scale innovative efforts that prepare individuals with the skills they need to be successful in a rapidly changing economy.

The Next Generation Sector Partnership model was piloted in the local healthcare sector – the Seattle-King County Healthcare Industry Leadership Table, or HILT – with support from Seattle Foundation, JP Morgan Chase, Ballmer Group, and the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. It will be scaled to two additional industries through the JP Morgan Chase grant.

Unlike the old model in which employers worked individually with multiple support organizations, the new the model organizes the many education, training and economic development entities into a coordinated response team, making it possible for employers to partner with a single group to ensure that job training programs prepare students for the current job market.

Kaiser Permanente also announced a $350,000 grant to the Workforce Development Council. The grant will connect more low-income youth to high-demand registered apprenticeship pathways in partnership with Puget Sound Educational Service District, the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee, Seattle Education Access, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction as well as South King County school districts, and community colleges.

QUOTES

“We brought together businesses, labor, philanthropies, and educators to transform the local workforce system so we can connect more people to good-paying jobs available right here, right now. Together, we will remove barriers to opportunity so that more of our neighbors can participate in our region’s historic job growth, providing local employers with the well-trained talent they need to compete in the global economy.”
- Dow Constantine, King County Executive

“This is another step forward in our work to build a regional economy with true opportunity for all. We are connecting workers with the good-paying jobs of the future and building a world-class workforce. We will continue to work with our partners across the region to address disparities in our workforce across race, disability, immigration status and other identities and ensure that prosperity is shared.”
- Jenny A. Durkan, Seattle Mayor

“Regional collaboratives are at the heart of how the National Fund achieves its mission. In more than 30 communities across the nation, business leaders and workforce professionals come together to deliver solutions that generate more inclusive prosperity. The National Fund provide a robust learning community for our members — that learning is a two-way street. Through our network, successful solutions in one community are shared, adapted, and replicated in another, creating change on a national scale. Seattle has been a key partner in our efforts to engage employers in new sectors and implement programs to ensure that all workers in the region can earn a family sustaining wage.”
- Fred Dedrick, President and CEO, National Fund for Workforce Solutions

“We are thrilled to work with new partners to grow and evolve our strategy for helping individuals in our community achieve financial self-sufficiency.”
- Tom Peterson, Board Chair of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County

“I could not be more energized by this huge commitment to shaping the workforce of tomorrow. Kaiser Permanente wants to make an impact on the lives of our members, employees and the communities we serve and access to living wage jobs is critical. We are truly honored to be on the frontline by intentionally creating space for underrepresented populations and people facing barriers to skills training and employment. Not only will our members benefit from having exceptional inclusive care but we’ll foster more sustainable and healthy communities.”
- Jiquanda Nelson, Sr. Manager, Equity, Inclusion & Diversity and Workforce Development

“As a registered nurse I wholeheartedly support expanded training opportunities through the Workforce Development Council. I have personal experience with career training through the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW Multi-Employer Training Fund, which gave me the support I needed to achieve my life-long dream of becoming a nurse. With the Training Fund I could go back to school while I worked, and they paid for all my tuition, books and supplies with no out of pocket costs. The WDC initiative is all about bringing together labor, government, philanthropies and employers to help working people achieve our dreams, so we can contribute fully to our communities.”
- Cenetra Pickens, Registered Nurse and SEIU 1199NW Member, Kaiser Permanente Tacoma Medical Center