Seattle, WA

City Name and Name of Workforce Area:
Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County

Contact Person:
Danielle Wallace

Contact Information:
(206) 448-0474, ext 3002

Mayors of Seattle, Bellevue, Kent, Renton, Federal Way, Kirkland, Auburn, Redmond, Shoreline, Burien, Sammamish, Issaquah, Des Moines, SeaTac, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Kenmore, Tukwila, Covington, Bothell, Lake Forest Park, Snoqualmie, Enumclaw, Woodinville, Newcastle, Duvall, Pacific, Normandy Park, North Bend, Black Diamond, Algona, Medina, Clyde Hill, Carnation, Yarrow Point, Milton, Hunts Point, Beaux Arts, Skykomish


Sector Strategies

Sector Panel Model

A sector panel is an industry-led and industry-driven group of leaders in the community who come together to focus on workforce issues in one particular industry. This group of business, education, labor, workforce development, nonprofit, and community leaders identifies the specific workforce issues to be addressed. By assessing needs and resources from the sector’s hiring perspective, members recommend short- and long-term solutions to meet the challenges in their sector.

The WDC of Seattle-King County has used sector panels to make an impact in several key sectors:

  • Healthcare (’02 and ‘13)
  • Green Jobs (‘08)
  • Interactive Media (‘09-‘10)
  • Public Sector (‘14)
  • Maritime (‘10 and ’13)


Financial Capability

The WDC has created a variety of tools that deliver financial education in the Seattle-King County region. The WDC will enhance these tools by adapting their use to more youth-friendly formats and increasing financial capability tool accessibility to young people.

One effective way the WDC envisions delivering financial education is through the Individual Service Strategy (ISS). For all youth served in Seattle-King County via Federal workforce dollars, the ISS is a requirement that articulates a personalized career and education plan. The inclusion of a financial capability plan in every young person’s ISS, will ensure that youth are connecting to the right training resources available for financial education.

For financial capability training plan content, the WDC will incorporate its Self-Sufficiency Calculator. The Calculator is a WDC developed and operated financial capability tool based on the Washington State Self-Sufficiency Standard. The Self-Sufficiency Standard indicates how much income an individual or family needs to meet their basic needs relative to family size and location of residence. The WDC took the Standard and developed an interactive and online Self-Sufficiency Calculator to support economic self-sufficiency planning with workforce development customers. The WDC will partner with educators to develop youth-friendly ways to use the Calculator, making it more interactive, fun, and youth-relevant.

The WDC also envisions a massive effort to bank Seattle-King County youth by working with local financial partners to open savings and/or debit accounts for young people in the region. The WDC will look to pair a financial capability curriculum to accompany the effort to bank Seattle youth because saving and money management are integral components to self-sufficiency.

Newspapers in Education

The WDC has partnered with the Seattle Times Newspapers in Education (NIE) to bring the WDC-developed Map Your Career to the Newspapers In Education (NIE) readership; which includes over 42,000 students and 1,096 educators in Washington State and beyond.  Over 70% of the students are middle school-college level, and over 41% of the educators teach some type of STEM education in their classroom.

The recently updated Map Your Career is an educational in-paper program about career pathways, wages and current trends in key industries in Seattle‐King County. These maps are individually published for four consecutive weeks in the Seattle Time’s Sunday paper. They include the in-demand sectors of Construction, Healthcare, Information Technology, and Manufacturing. Educators also receive customized lesson plans with each edition of Map Your Career.

Quarterly Youth Convenings

The WDC leads the effort of organizing local youth serving organizations to meet to discuss youth workforce development in Seattle-King County. These are regular quarterly meetings to discuss all youth workforce development activities in King County. These conversations are informed and driven by WIOA and youth-related community events and activities.

Health Careers for Youth

Health Careers for Youth is an award-winning public-private partnership that makes education and employment in health care accessible to low-income youth, including bilingual youth of color. This highly successful model is part of the Health Careers for All (HCA) project and allows young people to earn college credit while still in high school and to prepare for employment in healthcare. When they graduate, students are exposed to healthcare careers and many have become Certified Nursing Assistants. Some students have even completed college prerequisite coursework for more advanced healthcare training, and are already well down the path of education and career success. Read here for more information.

Health Careers for Youth earned the WDC a Governor’s Best Practice Award in 2009, and a “Bright Idea” designation from the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Youth Focused Business Services

The WDC has funded full-time business services representatives focusing on youth internships, jobs and youth friendly employer engagement since 2013. The youth representatives joined the WDC’s existing business services team, leveraging current employer relationships and identifying new employers interested in supporting summer and year-round youth employment. Business Services staff identified and developed relations with over 50 youth-friendly employers, which helped service-delivery-staff work with youth to prepare them for opportunities. Business service staff provide youth with multiple job search skills, workshops, employer worksite tours and sector-focused information panels. The Business Service staff connects youth with multiple employers resulting in direct placements. The team develops relationships with hundreds of local employers and coordinates youth-focused job fairs and company-specific hiring events.


YouthSource, one of the many programs supported in part by the WDC is located at WorkSource Renton. YouthSource is a comprehensive center meeting multiple needs in one place. More than a dozen community agencies are on site at YouthSource, including mental health and chemical dependency services. The YouthSource model combines rigorous education programming, high quality college readiness, career exploration, and employment services to reengage young adults ages 16-24 who have dropped out of high school. YouthSource, in partnership with Renton Technical College, offers services focused on assisting youth in completing high school or attaining a GED, employment preparation occurs in tandem with academic work. The strong regional partnerships at YouthSource offer students a supportive and positive learning environment for growth and development delivering 21st century skills.

Clinton Global Initiative; Schools to Careers Plus

In June 2012, WDC’s Chief Executive Officer, Marléna Sessions participated in the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America meeting in Chicago and came away with a commitment to create a stronger connection between tomorrow’s workforce and local industries desperate for their talents. From 2012 to 2014, the WDC-funded Schools to Careers Plus, a program that connects high school students with industry through innovative career awareness curricula, career assessment inventories, teacher training, and comprehensive planning that helps youth make informed decisions about education and training that leads to careers.

The WDC invested over $600,000 to support career awareness for high school youth, teachers, and parents in over 18 King County School districts. Nearly 9,000 youth have gained access to STEM learning opportunities and 500 educators have received career awareness training. The partnerships built through the WDC-funded Schools to Careers Plus served as a foundation for the statewide YouthWorks program.

Initiative that Address Barriers to Employment


The goal of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County (WDC) Homeless Intervention Project (HIP) is to transition homeless adults to stable housing by preparing and connecting them to employment. Under the current HUD contract, from Feb-Jul 2015, nearly 400 participants received services. 82 percent of HIP leavers upgraded from the streets/shelter to more stable housing within 90-days of exit, 67 percent obtained permanent housing within 90-days of leaving the program, 64 percent were employed at exit and earning an average wage of $1,964; 83 percent were still employed 90-days later and 62 percent were earning an average monthly wage of $1,000 or more.

Navigation is the central strategy guiding the services provided. The employment specialist actively engages the participant in planning for income growth; together they assess history, skills, barriers and goals. Services are then customized and the employment specialist bridges the participant to other team/network members (e.g., housing specialist, employment specialist, trainer/educator, social services) to implement their custom training, employment, and housing plans. Employment specialists maintain contact with program leavers for at least 90 days – many participants rely on this continued coaching and access to support services for a successful transition.

Each HIP partner agency devotes staff to developing employer contacts and providing job search, placement and retention services. Resources include links to the public workforce system (locally known as “WorkSource”), which has an extensive job bank, regular hiring events with employers, targeted job leads, and employment focused workshops (e.g., resumes and cover letters, mock interviews, LinkedIn, Job Clubs). In addition, partners leverage myriad other resources such as the King County Veterans Program, BFET, TANF, Sound Mental Health, Columbia Legal Resources, and the Financial Empowerment Center.

Home & Work

The “Home & Work” project builds upon the success of the HIP. The focus of this new project is aligning coordinated points of entry to employment at the same point as entry to housing in target areas. Home & Work supports the WDCs long-held belief that access to employment services and earned income is a key strategy to ending homelessness and should be integrated with housing services. Housing and employment goals can be worked on concurrently regardless of the perceived employability or readiness of the homeless household beginning at Coordinated Entry.

Individuals with Disabilities

Disability Employment Initiative

The WDC’s Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) is the focus of a demonstration project jointly sponsored by the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), funded from May 2012 through September 2014. The initiative supports Disability Resource Coordinators (DRCs) located throughout the area’s One-Stops at six WorkSource Seattle-King sites.

Specifically, the DRCs:

  1. provide expertise and serve as a resource to the workforce system and persons with disabilities, including Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) , Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Ticket to Work (TTW) and other disability and blindness beneficiaries;
  2. work with WorkSource partners in Integrated Resource Teams (IRTs) to address the needs of people with disabilities seeking training and employment opportunities throughout the WorkSource system; and
  3. increase employment and self-sufficiency for persons with disabilities by facilitating access to supports and services that will enable the transition to employment.


Cross-Regional Collaboration for Military Transition

The WDC has participated widely in cross-regional collaboration, such as the Washington State Military Transition Committee (WSMTC). This committee’s purpose is to help military members and families who are transitioning from military life or who are transitioning to a new installation. Focus areas include employment, education, and family support. By increasing cross-regional collaboration for job marketing opportunities and events, the group has increased employer availability by reducing market saturation of veteran-focused events. The WSMTC has also been pivotal in working with local installation Transition Assistance Programs by making jobseeker services more accessible and visible to veterans.

The WDC’s Business Services Team includes a veteran specific member who is dedicated to finding qualified veteran job seekers for local employers, with a focus on in-demand local industries. This team member coordinates outreach to employers and educates them on the advantages of employing veterans as well as on-the-job training programs and tax credits that might be available to them.


Self-Sufficiency Calculator

The Self-Sufficiency Calculator (SSC) is an online tool created by the WDC to support career planning with customers in our WorkSource system and track progress toward economic self-sufficiency. Operationalizing the Self-Sufficiency Standard developed by Dr. Diana Pearce, the WDC introduced the King County Self-Sufficiency Calculator. Thanks to a grand from the Paul G. Allen Foundation, the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and eight other workforce development councils, the Calculator is now available statewide.

Career counselors working under the Workforce Investment Act use the Calculator as a counseling tool, empowering customers to better understand financial situation, goals, opportunities, and challenges. Using the calculator, career counselors gather customer data to measure whether customers move closer to economic self-sufficiency while participating in our programs. With help from its state partners, the WDC updates the Calculator with new data every 2-3 years (most recently in 2014), and provides ongoing training to staff and community partners supporting its use. The WDC is proud to have received the NPower Seattle’s 2009 Innovation Award.

Map Your Career

Understanding career pathway options can be very helpful for career and education planning for both youth and adults. Career pathway diagrams illustrate occupations and industry-wide pathways available in a particular sector.

Available both as a booklet and on the web, you’ll learn about career pathways in ten key industries in Seattle-King County. For each industry, see the current trends, sample wages and career pathways offered. This resource is invaluable for both jobseekers and workers considering how to advance in a career.

Cohort Training Model

Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and matching funds provided by Washington State through the Workforce Investment Act, the WDC has utilized a Cohort Training Model. Cohorts are customized certificate or credential courses in high-demand occupations provided for groups of specific students, who are often laid-off workers. While participating in the cohort, students are paired with a WorkSource case manager, who offers career counseling and helps students overcome any barriers that may threaten to derail the student’s training.

In partnership with seven community and technical colleges, the WDC has invested in cohorts in:

  • Healthcare
  • Accounting
  • Computer engineering
  • Project management
  • Aerospace
  • Maritime Welding and Manufacturing

Thanks to support from community partners, the WDC has trained over 786 workers and invested in over 38 cohorts, with an incredible retention rate of 82%.