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Investing in Washington’s Workforce

Posted by Jeff Chapman at Jan 18, 2010 04:00 PM |
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Emerging out of the recession with our economic competitiveness intact will require an investment in workforce training. As the economy begins to grow, we will need to have workers whose skills match up with the needs of employers in the fields of green energy, health care, life sciences, accounting, and engineering.

The Worker Retraining Program, operated through our state’s community and technical colleges, provides training for dislocated and unemployed workers to gain the new skills and knowledge needed to successfully re-enter the workforce. The program pays for instructors, curriculum, as well as financial aid that helps pay for tuition, books, fees, and other related expenses for individuals who lost their jobs due to economic changes.

The program is effective. Over 80% of participants find jobs within three quarters of completion.* Workers who were in high paying jobs were able to recover 87% of their previous income within that time period. Workers who were in lower wages job were able to recover 118%.*

The graph below, from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, shows how enrollment in the program has spiked along with the unemployment rate and is expected to increase to 16,000 by 2010-11.*

worker retraining program

In response to the growing need, Governor Gregoire has proposed funding the Worker Retraining Program for an additional 2,500 (FTE) Washington workers. This is a step in the right direction, but it still leaves thousands of unfunded slots and other applicants being turned away. And at the same time, her budget proposes other reductions in funding for community and technical colleges on top of last year’s cuts that will strain their ability to provide education and training. Additionally, deep cuts in health care, child care, and other areas will also harm workers.

Maintaining our edge in a growing and changing economy will require a state budget that invests in Washington’s workforce.

 * Worker Retraining Program Accountability Report

 

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HIGHLIGHTS

Legislative Testimony

Senior Budget Analyst Kim Justice recently testified before Senate Ways and Means against a bill that would fund education at the expense of other budget investments. Watch it here. 

Kim 5881

Inside Olympia

Executive Director Remy Trupin appeared on TVW's "Inside Olympia" to discuss the budget, revenue options, and the impact of the McCleary decision going forward. The whole interview can be found here. 

Remy TVW -March 14


Budget Matters 2013

More than 300 people -- advocates, students, lawmakers, and policy experts joined us for our second annual policy conference. We heard from Heather McGhee, Jared Bernstein, and Governor Inslee.

Click here for video clips, photos, and PowerPoint presentations from the break-out sessions.

Our new video has highlights from the day. 

Heather McGhee


Save the date for this year's conference: Friday, December 12th, 2014 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.