It’s been called one of the best-kept secrets in town. WorkSource Spokane, the link between businesses and potential employees, is the region’s one-stop employment and career center, offering professional assistance at no cost to individuals looking for jobs, and businesses interested in hiring.
WorkSource Spokane was created 14 years ago following a change in the federal employment and training law. In 1998, with the passage of the federal Workforce Investment Act, local workforce boards became responsible for designating one-stop career centers, such as WorkSource Spokane. These centers are home to a variety of community partners offering employment and training services.
In order to align with the intent of the law, in the late 1990s, WorkSource Spokane was created and has continued to grow and change to meet the needs of the community. In addition to the main office at 130 S. Arthur in southwest Spokane, WorkSource also collaborates with a variety of agencies to offer services at over 17 sites throughout the county, including libraries, both community colleges and a host of nonprofit organizations.
“Although WorkSource Spokane occupies the ‘old unemployment office’ building, a term still used in Spokane, we are not the unemployment office,” said Dawn Karber, CEO of the Spokane Area Workforce Development Council, the area’s work force board that facilitates funding for WorkSource. “The building is now home to the region’s employment and career center. A lot has changed since the days of the ‘old unemployment office,’ and we hope you will stop by to see for yourself.”
The agency’s youth career and education center is located next door to WorkSource Spokane, at 901 E. Second. This site — the Next Generation Zone — is designed for those ages 16-21. Next Generation Zone staff also provide workshops at area high schools. Between WorkSource and the Next Generation Zone, agencies that work together to offer services include the Employment Security Department, Career Path Services, Community Colleges of Spokane, Labor and Industries, Goodwill Industries of the Inland Northwest and Northeast Educational Service District 101. In 2012, WorkSource received over 60,000 visits by talented individuals looking for employment, and provided services such as job search and résumé writing assistance, workshops on improving interviewing skills and identifying a career path, information on how to navigate the job market and lessons on how to locate and understand labor market information. The agency’s service model is primarily based on a daily rotation of high-quality workshops. In addition to workshops, WorkSource also offers intensive one-on-one career counseling, assistance returning to school for skill development or enhancement and a direct connection to employers though on-the-job training. In 2012, WorkSource helped over 2,400 businesses find the employees they need to sustain and grow their companies. Services for businesses include applicant recruitment and screening assistance, job postings, labor market information, hiring and tax incentive information, applicant skill assessment, job fairs and on-the-job training incentives. Further, WorkSource staff can offer tools for helping a business reduce hiring time and turnover. “When you’re looking for work, it really makes a difference to know that someone is there to help,” said Carol Becker, WorkSource employment and training specialist. The Great Recession greatly impacted WorkSource service levels, with requests for assistance doubling beginning in 2009. Since the peak, the agency has seen new customers declining slightly, but the need for assistance for the long-term unemployed has increased, as has the need for assistance from populations less likely to seek assistance in the past, such as individuals with advanced education degrees. Since WorkSource Spokane opened, it has been recognized with a number of honors, including being named the best one-stop career center in the nation by the International Association of Workforce Professionals (2008). In 2011, WorkSource was awarded a Governor’s Best Practice Award for implementing Work Ready Spokane, an ongoing initiative that is designed to measure the strengths of our region’s workforce and match those strengths with the needs of employers. In 2013, WorkSource once again met or exceeded its performance targets, earning incentive funding through the Spokane Area Workforce Development Council. To learn more about WorkSource, call 509-532-3000 or visit their web page. Story & photo by SNAP’s Community Outreach Specialist, Craig Howard. Originally published: 11.27.13