We are reviewing all aspects of our organization and the workforce system with an equity lens to identify and remove barriers to employment and advancement opportunities to ensure economic mobility for all.
Taking a bite out of food insecurity: partnership increases food distribution center capacity as demand soars
In response to rising strain on social services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Workforce Southwest Washington and the Washington State Department of Commerce began a partnership in 2021 to increase the capacity of food distribution centers across the region. The program places interns with local food distribution centers, helping individuals gain skills and work experience and at the same time building much needed capacity at food banks and pantries to feed our community.
“The investment increases economic opportunity for employees placed at foodbanks and families served through the sites. Partnerships with community-based organizations and nonprofits across Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties enable our local workforce development system to holistically serve families and individuals while supporting local business recovery and growth,” said Miriam Halliday, Chief Executive Officer of Workforce Southwest Washington.
Giving individuals the tools to ‘Thrive’: employment program expands to Wahkiakum County
On July 1, 2022, the Thrive program began serving residents in Wahkiakum County. The program expansion aims to help people experiencing poverty and individuals from historically excluded groups in rural areas obtain quality employment and wrap-around support services.
Originally launched in 2020 in the Highlands and South Kelso neighborhoods of Longview, WA in Cowlitz County, the goal of Thrive is to help lift individuals and their families out of poverty while providing them with support services while they do so. The program focused on the two neighborhoods based on wage and employment data. Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW) was chosen as one of four workforce development boards in Washington state to pilot the program, with state funding from the Economic Security for All (EcSA) grant.
Manufacturing Day brings awareness, opportunity for teachers and students
During Manufacturing month in October 2022, WSW brought awareness to the quality careers the manufacturing industry can offer for young adults in the region. The events held by WSW aimed to make manufacturing a career of choice for the emerging workforce, in accordance with the Regional Manufacturing Workforce Plan. Where attracting young adults is one of three key goals manufacturing leaders have set for their industry.
Manufacturing Day, which brought together teachers from Kelso, Longview, Woodland and Wahkiakum, gave educators the opportunity to learn about careers in the manufacturing field and the skills students should be equipped with to successfully join the workforce.
Fourth Plain Navigator
WSW sought and was awarded a $20,000 grant from KeyBank and $20,000 matching funds from the City of Vancouver to support a “Fourth Plain Navigator” who will serve as a liaison to people in the Fourth Plain Corridor of Vancouver. Alongside the City of Vancouver, Fourth Plain Forward, and the Fourth Plain Steering Committee, the Navigator will work to connect residents to support services, training and other opportunities at WorkSource, Next and with other organizations.
Expanding System Liaison Program
WSW has expanded its System Liaison program in Clark County by entering into a contract with Clark College to co-invest in establishing an employment navigator position at the College’s Career Services Center. The navigator will build relationships with area businesses to connect students to open jobs. The position is posted on the college website and recruiting is underway. WSW is funding four system liaisons: two in Clark County, one in Cowlitz County, and one in Wahkiakum County. The investments support educational and human services partners in building relationships with businesses and industries to help identify and fill their workforce needs and connecting students and job seekers to those open jobs and to the region’s public workforce network and resources.
Workforce Services to Those Dislocated Due to Opioid Addiction
WSW-funded partners have shown immense strides in the effort focused on individuals who have been dislocated from work due to opioid addiction. WorkSource continues to develop intentional connections with community partners such as LifeWorks, Clark County Public Health, and the Recovery Café to ensure individuals who are in recovery understand that workforce services are available.
Our Programs team has taken numerous steps:
- Rather than assuming we know what any community wants or needs, we are partnering with a local community group to evaluate workforce system accessibility, inclusivity and other factors and create a way to actively engage with community partners throughout the region to ensure the needs of historically-excluded communities are being met.
- Through our youth career and employment center, Next, we will be seeking individuals with expertise and knowledge of the needs of historically-excluded populations to provide culturally competent and inclusive services to youth from those communities.