New Grant from Retaining Employment & Talent After Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN)

*Release sent by the Washington State Employment Security Department

Washington to expand successful programs to help injured or ill employees return to work 

OLYMPIA – As Washington state prepares to celebrate National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, the Employment Security Department (ESD) is celebrating a $2.5 million federal grant to help up to 400 workers who develop a potential injury or illness remain at work, return to work or attain a new job.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network (RETAIN) will fund a demonstration project (WA-RETAIN) focused on two specific populations: state employees at risk of filing long-term disability claims and people not eligible for workers’ compensation who are at risk of leaving the  workforce. Washington is one of eight states to receive this grant funding for the next 18 months.

Generally, the longer injured workers are out of work due to disability, the less likely they are to return to work at all. In fact, an employee who is out of work for six months has less than a 50 percent chance of returning to gainful employment. If lost time reaches one year, the chances of successfully returning to work drop to 10 percent.

The RETAIN Demonstration Projects are modeled after a program operating in Washington state for injured workers covered under the state’s Workers’ Compensation Program. The success of this effort in helping workers return to work sooner is one of several reasons why the state Department of Labor & Industries was able to propose a reduction in workers’ compensation premiums for 2019. 

WA-RETAIN will engage the Center of Occupational Health and Education Alliance of Western Washington as well as other state and local partners, including the Workforce Development Councils (WDCs) in King and Snohomish counties. Securing this Phase1 grant makes Washington eligible to compete for one of four grants of up to $19.75 million each to expand on the model created in the demonstration project.

“We want all Washington workers to have access to great employment opportunities and resources they need to be successful,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine. 

“The WDCs of King and Snohomish counties have been highly successful in serving workers with disabilities and their employers to date and we look forward to working with them on this moving forward to amplify and grow their efforts.”

“We are honored to receive these funds to build a model that helps workers reattach to the workforce,” said Erin Monroe, CEO of Workforce Snohomish. “The longer workers stay out of the workforce, the less likely they are to return to work. Our goal is to help people on the pathway to economic prosperity.”

“With the staggering rate of one in 10 working age Americans having a substantial disability that impacts their opportunities to work, we’re thrilled and honored to continue to support our workforce on their pathways towards self-sufficiency,” said Dot Fallihee, interim CEO of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County. “Our WDC’s 47 WorkSource sites are proud to offer a depth of employment resources and opportunities for our residents.”

The WA-RETAIN project supports Gov. Jay Inslee’s goal of increasing the employment rate of working age people with disabilities in Washington and supplements efforts by the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment (GCDE). Toby Olson, Executive Secretary for the GCDE, will lead the project.

More information about the RETAIN grant is available at the US Dept. of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy site.

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Contacts:   
Janelle Guthrie, Communications Director, 360-902-9289
Toby Olson, Executive Secretary of the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment: 360-902-9489

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Seattle Selected for Competitive Nationwide Education Pilot

Linking Local Workforce Systems & Community Colleges for Adult Learner Success

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 21, 2017

Seattle, Wash. – The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) has selected partnerships of community colleges and workforce development boards in Philadelphia, Miami, Norfolk, and Seattle for a pilot project designed to link workforce systems and community colleges through Prior Learning Assessments (PLA) for adult learner success.

The local Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County in partnership with South Seattle College were the only west coast entity selected of the four pilot locations.

The method of employing PLAs in education has been highlighted by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration as an effective strategy for increasing postsecondary credential attainment. PLA enables non-traditional learners, a population that the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) projects could encompass more than 30 percent of enrolled students, to complete training and degree programs sooner by awarding them college credit based on the college-level knowledge, skills and abilities they’ve gained outside of the classroom.

Seattle instance of this CAEL project, funded by a grant from the ECMC Foundation, will build on the resources of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County and South Seattle College’s resources for adult learner populations with barriers to employment and will help increase the adult learner pipeline into postsecondary credential attainment. The program will also leverage adult learner-focused strategies to support college credential completion.

“It is an honor to receive this award, working in partnership with South Seattle College to pilot this nationwide movement. Through this innovative approach, we will be able to skill up our workforce to meet the increasing demands of our globalized economy,” says Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County CEO Marléna Sessions. “In a place like Seattle-King County where industries are booming and in need of talent, we are committed to working tirelessly so that all individuals and families can participate in the opportunities and successes created by such great innovation and its increasing demands.”

“Through partnerships with industry and the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, our college is committed to innovative solutions that connect Washingtonians with family-supporting careers,” said South Seattle College President Gary Oertli. “CAEL’s grant support will allow us to further implement a Prior Learning Assessment model, giving workers credit for expertise gained outside the classroom so they can earn credentials and increase their earning power.”

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The Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County is a workforce grant-making organization that oversees employment-related programs for youth, the adult workforce and employers in King County, with the goal of a strong economy and self-sufficiency for every resident. The Workforce Development Council provides the region with talent pipeline studies, research and partnerships to aid in connecting talent with employers that need it most. Learn more: via www.seakingwdc.org or by calling (206) 448-0474.

Media Contact
Hannah Mello, Communications Program Manager
Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County
hmello@seakingwdc.org |  206-448-0474 x 3014

Connect Online
www.seakingwdc.org
@SeattleKingWDC
WDC on LinkedIn

South Seattle College serves a multicultural population of around 15,000 students each year on campuses in West Seattle and Georgetown.  South’s mission is to provide an affordable, quality education that creates a fast track to good paying jobs, the option to transfer to a four-year university or college at great value, the opportunity to develop basic skills, and the chance to enrich your life – personally and professionally.

Media Contact
Ty Swenson, Interim Director of Marketing and Communications
South Seattle College
ty.swenson@seattlecolleges.edu |  206-934-6873

Founded in 1974, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) is a Chicago-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that assists adults with their educational career development endeavors. CAEL works with the public sector, private sector industries and higher education institutions to ensure that adult students receive the most efficient training and education to occupy a meaningful professional place in a 21st century economy. More information is available at www.cael.org.

Media Contact
Fritz Schneider|  301-728-4811
Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL)