On December 1, 2021, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office announced: “In response to a June 2021 request from local workforce development councils to designate specific additional WIOA focus populations based on the communities most directly impacted by employment impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am hereby designating the following as workforce focus populations for planning and performance accountability: Black, Asian, Native Hawaiian, Compact of Free Association (COFA) nations, and Pacific Islander communities; Latinos; LGBTQ communities; expectant persons; and veterans. This action aligns with our efforts to address historic racial inequity and systemic barriers to obtaining resources, services, and opportunities through the workforce system. It also aligns with our state’s focus on changing or removing systemic and structural barriers faced by communities of color and other marginalized communities and will help drive our state’s effort to achieve an equitable economic recovery.”
The message continued, “The action directs partners responsible for administering workforce development programs to work collaboratively on performance accountability measures to inform policymakers on the workforce system’s impact serving these focus communities, and to develop tools for policymakers and partners to assess progress over time. It further requests that other workforce development partners, including local workforce development councils that receive federal WIOA dollars through state workforce programs, assist in the implementation of this directive.”
“Our former CEO, Kevin Perkey, championed this workforce system change in our State when he was serving as co-chair of the Washington Workforce Association (WWA),” said Workforce Southwest Washington’s new CEO Miriam Halliday. “This is a good first step in what we hope will be a series of ongoing changes to challenge the status quo, address racial inequity and meet the needs of historically excluded communities.”
“WSW will continue to raise areas for improvement and looks forward to working with the Governor’s office, our WWA peers, Workforce Training Board, businesses and others to enact meaningful and positive systemic changes,” said Halliday.
Read the complete Directive 12-24: Designation of additional WIOA focus populations
See the Governor’s news release.
WSW is committed to working with our community to invest in transformative change that breaks down systemic racism and provides equitable access and opportunity for Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, Asian and other People of Color, those with disabilities, and LGBTQIA+ members of our community. Equity, diversity and inclusion are core values in the organization’s Strategic Plan.