Vancouver, WA

City Name and Name of Workforce Area:
Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW)

Contact Person:
Kevin Perkey, CEO

Contact Information:

Clark County: Shane Bowman, City of Battle Ground; Scott Higgins, City of Camas; Jim Irish, City of La Center; Ron Onslow, City of Ridgefield; Tim Leavitt, City of Vancouver; Sean Guard, City of Washougal; Jeff Carothers, Town of Yacolt. Cowlitz County: Paul Helenberg, City of Castle Rock; Ron Poulsen, City of Kalama; David Futcher, City of Kelso; Don Jensen, City of Longview; Grover Laseke, City of Woodland. Wahkiakum County: Dale Jacobson, Town of Cathlamet.

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Sector Strategies

With a labor shed that crosses state lines, Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW) and two workforce development boards in Oregon, Worksystems (serving Multnomah and Washington counties) and the Clackamas Workforce Partnership, formed the Columbia-Willamette Workforce Collaborative (CWWC) to partner on regional sector strategies for manufacturing, health care and technology.


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Working with industry leaders, the workforce boards have developed workforce plans for manufacturing and long-term care and will be addressing technology/IT/software. Our partnership ensures industries in the six counties served by CWWC are receiving targeted workforce support through talent recruitment and industry-specific training for incumbent and prospective employees. Local employers are actively engaged in defining the focus of our efforts.

Long-term Care

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As our population ages, the need for long-term care workers will intensify. To help businesses address the growing need for employees, WSW and its CWWC partners convened industry panels to hear directly from businesses; and with their input developed a “2015-2017 Long-Term Care Workforce Plan.”

The plan outlines goals, including targeted marketing and messaging to job seekers, developing a vetting process to refer high-quality candidates, and exposure and training opportunities for youth. The workforce investment boards meet with industry representatives on an ongoing basis to formulate strategies for addressing and meeting the workforce plan goals.

WSW is bringing together IT/software/digital technology businesses, training providers, economic development agencies, education and other partners to identify industry workforce needs, coordinate strategies and develop a regional technology workforce plan.

Applied Digital Technology Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ)

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The cities of Camas and Vancouver received designation from the State of Washington for an Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ)  in Applied Digital Technology. WSW serves on the IPZ management team that brings together research, workforce training, education, economic development, government and the private sector to help further grow the local high tech, digital and software industries, and help create local jobs.


YouthBuild Vancouver

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Collaborating with several area organizations (Partners in Careers, Evergreen Habitat for Humanity, WorkSource, Second Step Housing and Vancouver Housing Authority), in early 2015, WSW launched YouthBuild Vancouver, a job training and education program for at-risk teens and young adults ages 16-24.

Over the next three years, disadvantaged youth will receive education and training to obtain high school diplomas or GEDs and learn construction and other work-related skills through academic trainings, on-site work experiences and community service activities. Participants will also have access to apprenticeships and industry certifications in the construction trades as well as transitional housing opportunities. The program will culminate with the youth building two homes for low-income families enrolled with Evergreen Habitat for Humanity.

Many YouthBuild participants face significant hurdles to completing their education and finding work. Some are homeless or aging out of the foster care system. Others have struggled with drug abuse, trouble with the law and gang involvement or are parents without income or resources to raise their children. YouthBuild Vancouver gives them the education and skills to get a job or continue their education, and goes beyond by providing housing for those without a place to stay, food at each class to ensure no one goes hungry, case management and someone to turn to for support, encouragement and guidance. The program provides these young people with things some of them might never have had before, stability, caring and positive adult role models and peers.

Alone each organization can provide some services to help young adults, but together, through YouthBuild Vancouver, they are helping young people rebuild their lives and become successful members of the community.

Initiatives that Address Barriers to Employment

Long-term Unemployed
Reaching the long-term unemployed to connect them with training and education continues to be a focus in Southwest Washington. Through rapid response funds and a jobs driven national emergency grant, more than 150 residents will receive services, including training for health care professions.

Reboot NW
As part of a regional collaboration with its partners in Oregon, WSW secured a U.S. Department of Labor Ready to Work grant to train the long-term unemployed and veterans for jobs in manufacturing and information technology. The three-year grant will provide needs and skills assessments, job placement services, coaching, work-based training (on-the-job training, supported work experience, internships), and short-term intensive skills training for approximately 240 individuals in Southwest Washington.

Housing Works
Housing Works, another bi-state regional collaboration, brings WSW and the neighboring Oregon workforce development boards together with the local public housing authorities (PHA) to create a system that will enable PHA residents to gain the life and employment skills necessary to attain self-sufficiency and move out of poverty.

The program offers training in health care, manufacturing and office skills. Approximately 110 individuals in Southwest Washington will be served through this program and will earn industry-recognized credentials, complete internships and/or on-the-job training, receive occupational coaching and skills training. The program aims to remove barriers to employment, aid residents in gaining and retaining employment and increasing earnings.

Individuals with Disabilities

WorkSource promotes job counseling, assistance with employment opportunities and placement for persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities receive assistance with job referral, employment counseling and job development. Each WorkSource center has a local Disability Placement Specialist to act on behalf of persons with disabilities to provide and advocate for services.


WorkSource can help veterans and their spouses assess skills and interests and put together an individual employment plan so they can take their next employment and career steps or transition into the civilian workforce. On the WorkSource website, veterans can identify to make it easier for vet-friendly employers to find them, and can search for job openings where employers are giving veterans priority. WorkSource has Employment Specialists who can help military veterans with disabilities and other employment barriers.

WorkSource participates in the annual stand-down to provide veterans information on employment services and available jobs. Organized by the local nonprofit Veterans Assistance Center, approximately 70 agencies and nonprofit organizations come together to provide veterans information and assistance with housing, benefits, employment services and counseling.