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


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


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.


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.


“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

Event Recap: WorkSource Summit 2017

Statewide WorkSource conference with a focus on collaboration and integration

On Friday, December 8, 2017, WorkSource Seattle-King County hosted a statewide summit for staff and partners from across the state of Washington. Gathering at the Seattle Airport Marriot for a daylong conference, teams and individuals shared strategies and inspiration to improve the quality of services provided for community members, and internal collaboration with that goal in mind within the WorkSource system of sites.

Deitra Garrett, Integrated Services Coordinator at WorkSource Rainier, began the morning serving as the Master of Ceremonies. Min Song, interim Chief Operating Officer of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, led opening remarks, drawing experience from her family to discuss themes of courage and legacy. Finally, Agnes Balassa, a pioneer in improving the efficiencies of workforce systems, discussed the essential ingredients of organizational culture change, and summed up the concept of integrated service delivery in three maxims: 1) All Means All, 2) Free the Cubicle People, and 3) Put the Customer at the Center.

The conference broke into sessions covering a range of topics centered around the themes of “innovation, inspiration, and integration.” Representatives from Spokane and Snohomish counties added state-wide context to the expertise of King County staff and administrators. Sessions ranged in topic and encouraged group participation, revealing a wealth of real-world experience and examples for how to integrate services across functional agencies and design resources centered on human behavior.

At lunch, the keynote speaker, Michael Karl, inspired the room with creative strategies for breaking out of rote habits through his practice as a magician and mentalist. Michael demonstrated a number of canny illusions and talked through the twists and turns of his professional life, proving his skill as a master of playing with and subverting the audience’s expectations.

After lunch, smaller groups discussed general topics in workforce development, including community outreach, culture change, customer input, and service integration. Anne Masters, Training and Resource Coordinator with the WorkSource Seattle-King County Operator Team, led a group discussion with leadership and staff in a question-and-answer session.

Finally, Min Song returned to the stage with Hannah Mello, Strategic Communications Manager at the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, to close the day with a reflection on the courage necessary to leave a legacy of positive change.

Inslee Awards $6.4 Million to Create Apprenticeships, Career Connections for 29,000 Youth

$1.3 million to Career Connect Seattle-King County

Olympia, WA - Job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships are just a few of the career connections that will become available to 29,000 students thanks to $6.4 million in new Career Connect Washington grant funding.

The awardees expect to create 29,000 new career connected learning experiences in 11 communities from now through September 2019. These include STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning experiences, job shadows at local employers, career planning, and over 4,800 new internships, pre-apprenticeships, and registered apprenticeships.

“A four-year degree isn’t the only path to a fulfilling career,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “Business leaders have told us they are looking for talent in everything from information technology to health care. And that’s what this initiative is all about: connecting students to great employers and high-quality job training.”

The initiative expands registered apprenticeship programs and puts a new focus on youth registered apprenticeships. The awardees expect to move over 1,400 young people, plus more than 400 adults, into new apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeships in fields such as advanced manufacturing, health care, agricultural irrigation systems, building trades, IT and maritime manufacturing.

Read the rest of the story, including information about the $1.3 million awarded to Career Connect Seattle-King County, on the governor's Medium page.


Career Connect Seattle-King County focuses on providing relevant experiences across the continuum of career awareness, exploration, preparation and training for all youth, with an emphasis on underrepresented populations. The proposal partners with Highline and Seattle Public Schools, along with Open Doors sites, while engaging business and expanding apprenticeship pathways for youth and adults across the aerospace, culinary, allied health and construction sectors.

Media Contact
Hannah Mello, Strategic Communications Manager
Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County | 206.448.0474 x 3014

$1.6M Upskill-Backfill Initiative to Help Hundreds of Workers Move Ahead

New initiative to skill up workers in multiple sectors, will open up jobs across the state

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - September 7, 2017

OLYMPIA - The Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board has awarded $1.6 million in competitive grants to seven different projects designed to “upskill” entry- and mid-level employees through additional education and training that moves them ahead in their careers, while “backfilling” their open positions with new workers.

An estimated 550 workers will be provided additional training to advance their careers, with another 300 new hires backfilling projected openings. Three of the seven projects are in King County. Read more at:

The Upskill Backfill Initiative is one of several partnerships between the state’s Workforce Board and the Governor’s Office aimed at advancing the state’s workforce plan “Talent and Prosperity for All,” or TAP. Earlier this year, Gov. Inslee invested $3 million in federal workforce funding to accelerate implementation of the TAP plan, with a little over half of that going toward Upskill Backfill projects.

The seven projects join public and private resources to focus on a wide range of industries and occupations, including: Healthcare, Building Engineers in the Construction Industry, Construction and Highway Workers, Manufacturing, and Aerospace. Each project is headed up by a regional Workforce Development Council in conjunction with area businesses within a particular sector. This public-private partnership brings businesses to the table to help shape the training their workers receive, while also co-investing their own resources into targeted training programs. The goal is to move more Washington workers into needed, higher skilled positions, with a focus on populations facing barriers to employment.

“This initiative will provide many new opportunities for career connected learning,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “By providing on-the-job training and certification in high-demand industries, workers will advance their careers and strengthen the economy for all Washingtonians.”

In addition to the state’s $1.6 million investment in these projects, nearly $1.6 million in additional funding was leveraged through matching grants and business investment, for a total of $3.1 million in targeted job training.

King County's three projects are outlined below.

Project Focus – Building Engineers in the Construction Industry

The demand for building engineers is expected to increase 14 percent over the next 10 years in the greater Seattle area, according to Economic Modeling Specialists. An added challenge is an aging workforce at the Senior Building Engineer level. This project will upskill potential leaders, enabling them to operate HVAC, electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems in high-performance buildings and backfill with new employees. The project is intended to: engage 10 businesses; train 100 current workers (with 50 receiving wage increases); and bring 30 new hires into the newly opened positions. Partners: Renton Technical College, Construction Center of Excellence, TRIO, NW Business Solutions Inc., ANEW, Emerald Cities Seattle, WBEC Steering Committee (Wright Runstad/Western WA Stationary Engineers), Associated General Contractors (AGC) Education Foundation, and Western Washington Stationary Engineers. Grant Amount: $226,855 (with $171,257 leveraged, totaling $398,112)

Project Focus – Manufacturing

Skilled workers are in great demand from the manufacturing industry. Right now, the limited supply has employers poaching talent from one another in the region. This project will upskill manufacturing workers into leadership positions and backfill with entry-level workers, with a focus on populations with barriers including those with disabilities. The project is designed to: provide advanced training to 250 current workers (of which 175 will receive wage increases); bring in 100 new hires to the industry, with an estimated 10 employers increasing their overall FTE counts. Partners: Genie (Terex brand), Astronics AES and Spectralux, Everett Community College Corporate and Continuing Education Center, Lake Washington Institute of Technology, Seattle Goodwill Industries, and Seattle Housing Authority. Grant Amount: $275,000 (with $248,900 leveraged totaling $523,900)

Project Focus – Healthcare

King County faces an ongoing need for healthcare workers. To help meet this demand, area employers would like to tap promising talent from entry-level positons to fill critical clinical openings. This project will upskill current workers in positions such as environmental services, food services, and customer service to move into clinical roles such as nursing assistant and medical assistant, and backfill entry-level positions with jobseekers, with a special focus on populations facing barriers to employment. The project is designed to: engage two employers; support advancement training for 20 current workers; and facilitate 20 new hires to replace the workers who have advanced into new positions. Partners: Neighborhood House, Kaiser Permanente, Harborview Medical Center, the Washington Federation of State Employees, and other labor entities. Grant Amount: $241,480 (with $163,170 leveraged totaling $404,650)

The Workforce Board is a state agency that monitors and evaluates the state’s key workforce programs and also provides leadership on policies that help all Washington residents get the education and training they need to obtain living-wage jobs. The Workforce Board is also the state licensing agency for private career schools.