While the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced its Good Jobs Initiative in January 2022, the Southwest Washington-Portland region’s three workforce development boards have been tackling the issue of job quality since 2021.

On July 18 the three boards (Workforce Southwest Washington, Worksystems and Clackamas Workforce Partnership), operating in partnership as the Columbia-Willamette Workforce Collaborative (CWWC), released the Quality Jobs Framework, a blueprint of actionable, detailed strategies for companies to improve their jobs and work conditions and attract workers.

The CWWC believe an equitable economic recovery must include strategies and actions that address long-standing inequities and economic disparities – something that is central to the framework.

“The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic decline calls for bold, deliberate changes to stabilize the region’s workforce and ensure an equitable economic recovery,” said Bridget Dazey, Executive Director of Clackamas Workforce Partnership. “We are excited to introduce the Quality Jobs Framework to help increase the number of quality jobs and improve the regional economy for everyone, especially those hit hardest by the pandemic.”

What is a Quality Job?

Under the framework, a quality job includes the following characteristics:

A sufficient income to afford a decent standard of living.

Safe and inclusive working conditions that offer employees dignity and respect while encouraging their workplace engagement.

Predictable hours to minimize hardship on employees and their families.

Comprehensive benefits that increase economic security and improve health and overall well-being.

Accessible and transparent hiring and onboarding to ensure employers and employees are set for success.

Training and advancement opportunities to build skills and access new roles and responsibilities.

“We are implementing at the local level what is being discussed nationally about job quality,” said Miriam Halliday, CEO of Workforce Southwest Washington. “In addition to improving conditions for workers, quality jobs are good for business and can contribute to increased employee morale and productivity and decreased turnover.”

The framework was developed over six-months in consultation with a council of 19 participants representing business, workers, labor, service providers, and government agencies. The work included research, case studies, a nationwide scan of best practices and interviews with relevant organizations and leaders.

COVID-19 originally inspired the Quality Jobs Initiative, with its significant, ongoing impact on the regional economy and workforce. At the same time, mass protests and social unrest following the murder of George Floyd renewed calls for policymaking centering racial justice and equity. Adding to this, companies continue struggling to recruit, hire and retain workers amid “The Great Resignation.”

In response to these myriad challenges facing individuals and businesses, CWWC responded with the Quality Jobs Framework to provide a regional approach to (1) defining quality jobs, (2) provide guidance on standards companies can adopt, (3) identify resources to help businesses implement in accordance with their workplace needs, and (4) develop a roadmap of actions, steps and metrics.

“Companies, municipalities and nonprofits that are looking for employees and are wanting to help create a more equitable regional economy should consider adopting the Quality Jobs Framework,” said Andrew McGough, Executive Director of Worksystems. “We encourage them to get started today and connect with their local workforce board for assistance or view the resources available on our websites.”

The Columbia-Willamette Workforce Collaborative is a partnership of the region’s three local workforce development boards – Workforce Southwest Washington, Clackamas Workforce Partnership and Worksystems.

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