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The preparation of a skilled, successful workforce aligned to the needs of business and industry.

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Who we are

The Council is a 27 member board responsible for governance and oversight of the workforce development system in Whatcom, Skagit, Island and San Juan counties.    Authorized under the federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), the Council convenes private and public sectors to address workforce development issues. 

Led by a business majority, the Council includes representation from businesses, labor, education, economic development and government. The Council, in partnership with local elected officials, operates using a strategic plan whose regional strategies support the state’s strategic workforce plan while addressing local issues and economic development priorities.

What We Do

The Council is dedicated to addressing the full spectrum of workforce needs through an outcome and customer based model that addresses the needs of both employers and job seekers.   We envision that a cohesive workforce strategy created through the common goals of business, education, labor, and community organizations will yield strong economic outcomes and an adaptable and skilled workforce. 

Advocating for Regional Workforce Needs

The Council identifies current and future workforce trends, needs and priorities, and works with stakeholders and constituencies to execute priority initiatives.  The Council is the regional advocate for efforts to identify sector-specific strategies that better align education, economic and  workforce development initiatives.  The Council ensures the local perspective is incorporated in state and national policy forums.

Building a Skilled Workforce

The Council’s core business is to improve the ability of our workforce to meet the demands of business and industry.  Our system provides an array of business services, with resource investment in targeted industries.  Innovative solutions are drawn from vibrant partnerships and through strategic resource investment of training and the leveraging of other public/private funds. 

Targeting Industry Sectors

The Council is a leader in convening industry,  education, economic development and labor around industry specific issues in multiple venues and formats.  Industry panels, public–private partnerships working together to improve the skills of workers in industries vital to our region, are one such forum.  Industry panels continuously examine the workforce needs of industries they serve and create action plans to meet those needs.  The Council executes these action plans through its strong, collaborative partnerships and through its resource investment of training dollars and other funds. 

Investing in Training

The Council provides financial resources to qualified individuals for occupational or technical education programs and customized training in high demand occupations.  Through resource leveraging with public and private investments, the Council targets its training resources to increase the number of workers on the high skill path and make certain the skill gap is narrowed for employers. 

Youth Futures

The Youth Council, a policy advisory committee of the Council, keeps a focus on effective strategies for serving secondary school students and high school dropouts.   Collaborations with the K-12 system and youth organizations enhance educational attainment and retention in school, and ensure the proactive readying of the region’s future workforce.  The Council invests in youth initiatives that not only make a difference in the lives of the young people they engage, but also result in a tremendous return on investment.

WorkSource

WorkSource One-Stop Centers link job seekers to job opportunities, provide career information and job search training, and function as the access point to an array of training resources.  Customized services are available for veterans, and to help traditionally underserved populations enter successful jobs and careers.   

The Council collaborates in a partnership-driven environment that seeks increased coordination and accountability within a one-stop system whose objective is to supply qualified workers in support of business recruitment and expansion. Called “WorkSource” in Washington State, One-Stop Career Centers integrate many government employment and training-related services in one place to serve job seekers and business.    

The Council is responsible for the oversight of full service WorkSource centers located in Bellingham, Mount Vernon, and Oak Harbor and a career center in Friday Harbor.