Washington, D.C.

City Name and Name of Workforce Area:
District of Columbia, Department of Employment Services (DOES)

Contact Person:
Unique Morris-Hughes, Interim Director, DOES

Contact Information:
(202) 671-1900

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser

DOES logo copy

Sector Strategies

The DC Dept. of Employment Services sector strategies include:

  • More community engagement;
  • Creating additional earn-and-learn opportunities like apprenticeships and internships;
  • Instituting better agency integration with our partners at the DC Department of Human Services, Department of Corrections and more;
  • Developing more training opportunities that industry specific and connect to jobs in growing sectors; and
  • Using the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act of 2014 to enhance our programming with federal and local funding.

We have accomplished some of these objectives over the summer with the opening of two community-based American Job Center locations to provide services and resources similar to our larger-scale America Job Centers, including:

  • Career counseling, job search strategies, resume assistance, interview preparation, job placement, and computer training;
  • Registration in our DC Networks database to connect directly with available employment opportunities and employers; and
  • Referrals to local education and training programs.

With these two locations in Ward 8, and others soon to open in other underserved D.C. communities, DOES wants to make the journey to employment more accessible and more centrally located.

We also know that some of the District’s most viable career opportunities only require a high diploma, but there is still additionally training needed to adequately prepare individuals to take on these roles. In areas of hospitality, healthcare, IT, and more, DOES is working to create more options for residents to get work experience, earn wages, and train up to obtain further career growth.

We also launched our First Friday Training Round Up in October 2015 in an effort to connect residents to our most trusted training providers and allow them to get the skills they need and employers demand. Over two months, we’ve connected close to two hundred District residents to new training programs and certifications.

In 2014, only 185 residents received training through our eligible training providers. With the addition of our First Friday efforts, DOES will have will successfully linked 700 to 800 residents to training opportunities in 2015.


The Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is a locally funded initiative sponsored by the Department of Employment Services (DOES) that provides District youth ages 14 to 21 with enriching and constructive summer work experiences through subsidized placements in the private and government sectors.

Mayor Bowser expanded the 2015 SYEP to include youth ages 22-24 years old to provide them with meaningful work experience and individualized support that will help them identify a career pathway.

Through SYEP, we strive to provide young people with the opportunity to:

  • Earn money and gain meaningful work experience;
  • Learn and develop the skills, attitudes, and commitment necessary to succeed in today’s world of work;
  • Gain exposure to various exciting career industries; and,
  • Interact with dynamic working professionals in a positive work environment.

Though SYEP is a short-term employment and training program, our goal is to introduce our youth to employers who will positively impact their futures.

Employers in the Washington, DC metropolitan area make this annual program possible by volunteering to serve as Host Employers and providing structured job opportunities for youth during the summer.

The Marion Barry Youth Leadership Institute (MBYLI) was founded in 1979 as a year-round program to train District of Columbia youth in the concepts of leadership and self-development.The MBYLI training model emphasizes practical, hands-on experience and a holistic approach to developing leaders for the 21st century. Each year, 150 young people participate in the year-round program and 350 youth participate in the Summer Training Program. Thousands of DC youth have received leadership training to date.

Members of the Institute come from a wide cross-section of ethnic, cultural, and economic backgrounds, reflective of the general population of the city. Leadership development training begins for members of the Institute at age 14, and generally concludes at age 17, when they are ready for college or other post-secondary opportunities. The Institute is strongly supported by its Alumni Association, an auxiliary group which meets regularly to generate support for the Institute.

Youth leaders are active in a variety of programs and special projects that allow them to demonstrate their acquired skills. These activities include:

  • MBYLI Youth Government – a replication of the District government
  • Overnight residential training on local college campuses and local camp sites
  • Serving as hosts to youth visiting the Nation’s Capital from cities across the United States and from countries around the world.
  • Developing and publishing a MBYLI newsletter
  • Hosting an annual public speaking competition for youth
  • Hosting an annual Community Awards Banquet
  • Performing community service work
  • Sponsoring issues forums with local government officials and prominent industry professionals

Initiative that Address Barriers to Employment

L.E.A.P. (Learn, Earn, Advance, Prosper) is a network of interconnected partners utilizing the “earn-and-learn” approach that will link the city’s unemployed residents with employment, education and training opportunities. The earn-and-learn approach applies the apprenticeship model to skill development, allowing individuals to earn a wage while participating in an on-the-job training experience and concurrently participating in related technical instruction. This framework allows individuals to earn wages and accumulate work experience thus bolstering their ability to advance along a career pathway and into the middle class.

DC Career Connections will provide 20 to 24 year old participants with on-the-job training.  In addition, we will expand our LEAP Academy, which gives District residents a fair shot at careers in public service. The expanded program will include good paying jobs at District agencies that provide vital services for residents.

  • The DC Career Connections (DC-CC) program will provide more than 400 disconnected youth ages 20-24 with meaningful, paid work experience and opportunities for education, training, and professional development.
  • Youth may participate in subsidized employment for up to 9 months (39 weeks) for up to 25 hours per week at an initial rate of $8.25/hour (with potential increase to $9.25/hour).
  • Youth will receive individualized coaching and support with securing full-time, unsubsidized employment.
  • Our goal is to provide youth with life-changing experiences.

Project Empowerment is a transitional employment program that provides job readiness training, work experience, and job search assistance to District residents who face multiple barriers to employment. Participants attend an intensive, three-week training course and upon completion have the opportunity to be placed in subsidized employment for up to six months. In addition to job readiness training and job search assistance, Project Empowerment provides supportive services such as adult basic education, job coaching and occupational skills training. The goal of Project Empowerment is for participants to secure permanent, unsubsidized employment.

Individuals with Disabilities

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The Department of Employment Services (DOES) offers veterans a wide variety of job search and training services.  Special veterans’ representatives are employed at most American Job Centers, where case managers ensure complete services for veterans, especially those who are disabled. Specialized federal services such as the Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) program are also available to eligible veterans by contacting the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) specialist at (202) 530-9371.

Veterans benefits include the following:

  • Registration at an American Job Center
  • Assessment of individual interest, skills and abilities, as well as counseling, to assist with an effective job search
  • Follow-up services
  • Assistance in securing medical services or counseling
  • Priority status accorded to all veterans for all employment services


TechHire – As part of the Obama Administration’s TechHire Initiative, the DC Department of Employment Services (DOES) is working with a group of stakeholders to train and put 200 returning citizens to work in high-tech careers.

DOES has already begun engaging with partners, including the Federal Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA), the DC Department of Human Services (DHS), the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizens Affairs (MORCA), the University of the District of Columbia Community College (UDC-CC), the Workforce Investment Council (WIC), the DC Chamber of Commerce, the HOPE Project and other stakeholders.

With a goal of placing at least 75 percent of the trained returning citizens in permanent employment, the DC TechHire initiative has employer commitments from Competitive Innovations, Prism Inc., and Veredus. The District will continue to engage local technology companies to review modifications to their hiring process and develop competency-based tech curricula for individuals with a criminal record.