Snohomish County is investing $4.3 million in seven workforce development and job pathways programs. The seven awarded projects provide enhanced employment training and/or address challenges to employment, with the goal of connecting individuals to stable jobs or career pathways. The projects focus on highly impacted populations including youth, immigrants and refugees, and people with disabilities. They are funded through the county’s federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation.
COVID-19 had a significant impact on the workforce, and Snohomish County employment has not caught up to pre-pandemic levels, the county said in a press release announcing the awards. An estimated 9,000 fewer people are working today than at the start of the pandemic, largely due to the increasing retirement rates of thousands of workers and lack of child care availability. Although countywide unemployment rates are near historic lows, some groups are lagging behind. Young people ages 16-24 have an unemployment rate of 11.9%, which is nearly four times the countywide unemployment rate of 3.4%.
“When we talked to the community about their priorities for pandemic recovery, supporting our workforce came up in nearly every conversation we had,” said County Executive Dave Somers. “Right now, employers are struggling to hire the staff they need, and vulnerable populations are struggling to find good-paying jobs due to systemic challenges. With these investments, we are creating a gold-standard workforce development system that meets the needs of community members and employers.”
“I am grateful to Executive Somers’ team for getting these investments out the door,” said District 3 County Councilmember Strom Peterson. “We know that people are struggling to find jobs that can keep them in our community and this commitment to action across the county will do just that. These programs will pay dividends for years to come.”
All awarded projects originate from submissions to the County’s Workforce Recovery Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). Addressing workforce shortages and creating pathways to good-paying jobs was identified as a top community priority during the county’s community-wide pandemic recovery engagement effort. All funded projects are detailed below.
Workforce Snohomish – Data Analytics Boot Camp
Workforce Snohomish will partner with Northwest Innovation Resource Center (NWIRC) and Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest to convene a data analytics boot camp for participants ages 18-24 and other individuals who have challenges to employment. These bootcamps will accelerate new technical abilities, enhance existing capabilities, and add data analytics to the participants’ overall skill set.
Economic Alliance Snohomish County (EASC) and Snohomish STEM Network – Youth STEM Career Exploration
This award will allow EASC and Snohomish STEM Network to bring expanded youth career exploration programming to the entire county by way of broad partnerships in K-12, higher education, and career connected learning organizations. The program will increase STEM programming access to over 5,000 students.
Edmonds College – Link Light Rail Construction Pre-Apprenticeships
Edmonds College partners with Sound Transit and the City of Lynnwood to offer a 10- to 12-week construction pre-apprenticeship program to train students to work in the trades supporting Snohomish County industries that include transportation and commercial and residential infrastructure. This funding supports five cohorts of 10 students and will allow Edmonds College to partner with Latino Educational Training Institute (LETI) and Refugee & Immigrant Services Northwest (RISNW) to modify instruction to better serve Snohomish County’s linguistically and culturally diverse population including increasing access for non-native English speakers.
AJAC – Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeships
This project is a regional expansion of adult and youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs in the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries. Youth program expansion efforts will focus on participants between 16-24 years old, including youth with disabilities as well as high school students at Sno-Isle Skills Center and school districts from Everett, Snohomish, and Granite Falls.
HopeWorks – Stipends for Training Academy
This funding will allow HopeWorks to expand supportive services provided to trainees in the HopeWorks training academy. The training academy engages participants in pre-employment education and paid hands-on job training in sought-after career pathways. Funded supports include meals, incentives, transportation costs, navigation staff, and trainee stipends.
Housing Hope – Human Services Career Pathways
This funding will allow Housing Hope to develop a human services career pathway in the existing Housing Hope Employment and Education program. This program serves unemployed, underemployed, and underserved communities. Housing Hope will hire a human services trainer to deliver a comprehensive four-week classroom instruction on best practices for providing human services, as well as support job shadowing for participants.
Cares of Washington – Enhanced Access and Job Retention
Cares of Washington will increase its enhanced employment access and intensive job retention services to people with disabilities, people with low incomes, non-native English speakers, people of color, and women. This funding will allow the organization to support more people for a longer period of time, increasing the likelihood of each person making lasting progress and achieving economic stability through living wage jobs in Snohomish County.
Once awarded projects begin serving individuals, anyone interested can learn more about the projects on the County’s COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard.