Portland Metro

City Name and Name of Workforce Area:
Portland Metro Workforce Development Board

Contact Person:
Andrew McGough

Contact Information:

Charlie Hales - Portland, Shane Bemis - Gresham; Doug Daoust - Troutdale; Denny Doyle - Beaverton; Peter Truax - Forest Grove; Lou Ogden - Tualatin; John Cook - Tigard

Worksystems, Inc.


Sector Strategies

The Columbia-Willamette Workforce Collaborative is a partnership between Worksystems, Inc., theSouthwest Washington Workforce Development Council and the Workforce Investment Council of Clackamas County that delivers a unified approach to serving industry, supporting economic development, and guiding public workforce investments. By working together, we can cultivate our regional talent pool and build the foundation for a strong economy (Industry Engagement Framework).

The work of the Collaborative is driven by the industries we serve: advanced manufacturing, health care and high tech. Business leaders are directly involved in the design, development and delivery of workforce services to ensure that our training investments meet their needs. We pursue additional resources, fill gaps and link workforce supply with industry demand.  We then evaluate every initiative so we can see what’s working and ensure program quality and outcomes.


Our youth workforce investments support a system – the Career Connect Network – that prepares young people for post-secondary education and career-ladder employment. Our focus is on college preparation, career exploration, work-readiness training and work experience to help young people understand the relevance of classroom learning. The youth supported by our funding are motivated and want to reconnect with school or work, but face many barriers such as growing up in poverty or lacking the necessary education. Our investments help disconnected youth get on a path to a successful career with the life skills necessary to stay on course.

We work in partnership with the business community to provide career exploration opportunities for area youth. Businesses can volunteer for a variety of activities that expose youth to careers in their industry such as speaking in a classroom, conducting mock interviews, or hosting a company tour – and we make it easy to participate through BizConnect.


Youth need opportunities to learn the skills that can only come through real work experience, yet today only 1 in 4 teens are able to find employment. Our investments fund meaningful, paid work experiences to help young people learn and develop the skills necessary to succeed in today’s world of work. We offer work experiences year-round but expand the number of employment opportunities during the summer months through our SummerWorks program to help at risk young people stay engaged while not in school.


Initiative that Address Barriers to Employment

In addition to managing federal Workforce Investment Act funds from the US Department of Labor, Worksystems has a highly successful track record of bringing additional grants and other resources into the community. We pursue funds to support and expand proven best practice programs and to provide customized training to target populations such as disconnected youth, public housing residents, and workers impacted by mass layoffs. We also pursue funds to support training in key occupations for target sector industries such as advanced manufacturing, health care, software/IT and construction.

Grants we’re currently managing:

  • ProSTEP is the combination of three federal grants that Worksystems has secured to provide training for key occupations in the IT/Software and Advanced Manufacturing sectors.
  • Housing Works
  • Back to Work Oregon


Prosperity Planner

The Prosperity Planner is a career and financial planning tool that helps people understand how much money they need to earn to be self sufficient. By using this tool, job seekers can create a budget that covers their basic living necessities and identify resources to help lower their expenses. The Planner can also be used to explore career options to determine which ones will provide enough income to achieve financial independence and to create a career plan to get the necessary skills.

The Prosperity Planner is based on the “2011 Self-Sufficiency Standard for Oregon” developed by Dr. Diana Pearce of the University of Washington’s School of Social Work. The Standard defines the income necessary to cover basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, taxes, and miscellaneous expenses – without private or public assistance – and is specific to 70 different family compositions and geographic location of residence. The Prosperity Planner was adapted for use by Worksystems with the permission of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle King County. The Planner is one of many products and services funded by our adult investments and available at any WorkSource Portland Metro Center.

Code Oregon

Code Oregon is an innovative training program dedicated to teaching 10,000 Portland Metro residents how to code and prepare them for rewarding careers in software development, front and back-end web development, and design. Courses in coding languages such as Android, HTML, CSS, Apple’s iOS, WordPress, PHP, Python, JavaScript, Ruby, and others is provided by Treehouse, an online learning company, and the training is offered for free through funding from Worksystems Inc. and the State of Oregon.

President Obama includes Code Oregon in Tech Hire initiative!

As individuals build their skills they can receive additional mentoring, career planning, training, and employment placement assistance from their local WorkSource center. Code Oregon also plans to host a fall 2014 job fair with the goal of connecting job-ready students with leading tech companies.

Students are prepared for a job that pays $45,000-$70,000 with no degree or experience required!

Code Oregon is designed to bolster the talent pipeline to support Oregon’s growing tech sector in direct response to industry demand. This initiative is one of many ways that Worksystems is supporting this important industry in our region.

There are 700 tech openings in PDX today. There will be 10,000 more by 2020.

Individuals interested in Code Oregon can log on at www.codeoregon.org to begin their learning adventure – just like Sierra did! – and can be ready for a new, high-demand tech career in as little as 6 months. Tech companies interested in engaging in this effort can participate in the Fall Jobs Fair, hire qualified students for internships or junior developer positions, and/or help to sustain Code Oregon through a variety of sponsorship opportunities. Contact John Gardner for more information.