Business Recovery and Growth

Our business investments and resources aim to stabilize the economy by supporting businesses recovery and growth through training, recruitment and retention with a focus on equitable economic recovery for those most disproportionately affected.

2023 Updates

Quality Jobs Initiative

In February 2023, WSW released the Quality Job Guides, with information from the Quality Jobs Framework organized by standard. The guides provide businesses and partner organizations with tools and strategies to implement and track Quality Jobs strategies.

The guides include in-depth information on Quality Jobs Standards, practical guidance on implementing strategies, a fillable worksheet to help guide businesses and additional resources to help your business improve job quality to recruit and retain talent.

WSW released a Request for Qualifications for Consulting Services for Southwest Washington Businesses Working to Improve Job Quality. Contractors selected through this process will provide services in human resources, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility and other services related to improving job quality. Services will help Southwest Washington businesses put Quality Job strategies into action.

Workforce development investment helps long-term care company train, advance and retain employees

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated worker turnover across the economy. The impact was particularly exacerbated in healthcare. Many healthcare workers faced increasingly stressful and dangerous working conditions.

In Southwest Washington, Koelsch Communities found answers in a training and advancement opportunity, designed to help their long-term staff by equipping them with a new methodology of care for patients with dementia. Originally piloted in 2017, Koelsch partnered with Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW) to train staff on Humanitude, a paradigm-shifting training for staff working with patients with dementia.

WSW has invested $58,669 in the trainings for 64 Koelsch employees, which took place in four cohort trainings, during 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2023.

The trainings proved successful for Koelsch, as staff noticed a dramatic positive change in quality of life for many residents. There were improvements in residents walking, talking, and accepting care. Several withdrawn residents began feeding themselves and interacting with others. There was a 90 percent reduction in aggressive behavior and refusal of care by residents with dementia.

2022 Updates

High-Tech Hiring Event connects candidates to quality jobs

Nearly half of the region’s advanced manufacturing workforce is 45 years or older. As workers retire, companies will need to accelerate hiring to meet demand. To help with this, Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW) and the Southwest Washington High Tech Council (HTC) organized a hiring event.

The High Tech Manufacturing Hiring Event took place on October 13 at the Clark College Columbia Tech Center campus with participating organizations including Analog DevicesControlTekColumbia MachineKyoceranLightShin EtsuSilicon Forest ElectronicsThompson Metal FabUnderwriter LaboratoriesClark CollegeWafertechWorkSource and I.F. Robotics.

At the event, job seekers gained information about companies and their job openings, and some participated in pre-screening interviews with employers. Businesses in attendance had more than 70 job openings to fill.

Quality Jobs Initiative

WSW, through our partnership with the Columbia-Willamette Workforce Collaborative (CWWC), formed a Quality Jobs Council in July 2021. This time-limited council comprised of the private sector, labor, community-based organizations, and workers wrapped up its work in early 2022. The Council identified priorities and strategies to promote Quality Jobs, analyzed existing policies and procedures, and finalized the Quality Jobs Framework.

The Quality Jobs Framework, launched in July 2022, is a blueprint of actionable, detailed strategies for companies to improve their jobs and work conditions to improve employee recruitment and retention.

Construction Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class

To prepare for future infrastructure projects throughout the region, WSW is partnering with Oregon Tradeswomen to offer its industry-recognized (and preferred) Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class (TACC). The 192-hour pre-apprenticeship and employment readiness training program prepares adult job seekers for a career in the skilled construction trades.

TACC introduces participants to a variety of skilled trades through field trips, guest speakers, hands-on workdays, and trade-specific training opportunities. Participants learn about registered apprenticeship – an “earn while you learn model” which is often the next step to a career pathway in the construction industry.

Oregon Tradeswomen’s training is offered at no cost to job seekers meeting the program criteria. Individuals successfully completing this Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries certified program receive a certificate of completion recognized by industry-registered apprenticeship training programs and employers. Both UA Local 290 and NECA/IBEW Electrical Training Center provide direct entry to qualified program graduates.

While Oregon Tradeswomen has always welcomed women from Southwest Washington, lack of transportation and childcare have been typical barriers for pre-apprentices. Oregon Tradeswomen has virtualized portions of the curriculum throughout the COVID pandemic, so Southwest Washington women will be able to participate and not have to be away from home as often. For those critical in-person training days, WSW will provide both transportation and childcare resources to ensure pre-apprentices can complete their program and enter a paid registered apprenticeship. WSW will be focusing on young women from historically excluded populations in the 2022 recruitment.

2021 Updates

To ensure our region’s businesses have access to the skilled workers they need to recover and grow, WSW and its Columbia-Willamette Workforce Collaborative partners launched a Quality Jobs Initiative and are working closely with business, community, and education partners to define what high-quality work means for our region and how we can come together to support a high-quality job for everyone.

As our business team forms the Quality Jobs strategy, they are engaging with companies on a variety of issues, among them:

  • Hiring strategies to increase opportunities for historically-excluded populations. Analyzing job descriptions to remove job requirements that could potentially and inadvertently exclude candidates. For example, requiring higher education degrees when not truly necessary to perform essential work functions, decreasing or removing years of experience requirements). And using language to market positions, rather than listing requirements.
  • The overall readiness to welcome, support and retain historically-excluded populations in the workplace and what resources companies might find helpful.
  • Seeking ways to support apprenticeships, especially those for entry-level candidates that include support around developing a professional network and professional/soft skills.
  • Exploring a pilot partnership with a healthcare organization to create a pathway for current CNA’s, especially women, immigrants and people of color.
  • Gaining insights from the next generation of workers by gathering feedback from local college students on what job quality means to them and incorporating that into our strategies.

In our own organization, we have updated our employee handbook and are reviewing policies, practices and procedures. We will be contacting women- and minority-owned firms in our region to learn about how we can support them and ensure they are on our distribution lists to receive future requests for proposals and notices of workforce development grants and other opportunities.

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