Tacoma, WA – In April, 18.2 percent of Pierce County workers lost jobs to COVID-19-related closures. As the county moves to reopen, the local workforce system is striving to help the more than 150,000 people who filed unemployment claims in May.
The award of a federal Disaster Recovery National Dislocated Worker grant comes as good news to WorkForce Central, the administration arm of the local workforce system that includes WorkSource Pierce and other partnering agencies.
“We anticipate we’ll be getting close to $2.5 million to ramp up efforts to get people back to work,” said Helen McGovern-Pilant, WorkForce Central Interim CEO. “As recovery starts, not everyone will have a job to go back to. Many businesses have closed or reduced staffing levels.”
She added that WorkForce Central aims to prevent long-term unemployment and underemployment and to help lift up low-income communities.
“The return to work will be gradual and many people will need training for new careers. We’re continuing to apply for grants with the goal to assist as many as 5,000 people with wraparound support that includes training, apprenticeships, paid internships, transitional jobs, and financial support during training.”
The grant money will help WorkForce Central and its partners expand current efforts. The workforce system continues to provide services online and over the phone during COVID-19. Collectively the system in Pierce County offers job search support, mentoring, and learning opportunities ? from GED and certificate programs to support toward two-year degrees. Particular emphasis is given to serving youth, adults without high school diplomas, and dislocated workers needing training for new types of employment.
WorkForce Central also works closely with Pierce County employers to help match skilled workers with job openings and provide human resources support. In recent weeks, its Business Solutions program has hosted a dozen virtual hiring events for local employers.
Resources and more information can be found at www.WorkForce-Central.org.