$4.8M awarded to Pierce, Thurston counties for spouses, workers impacted by BRAC, JBLM relocation

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Monday that a National Emergency Grant of approximately $4.8 million has been awarded to help 825 displaced military spouses and civilian defense workers in Pierce and Thurston Counties gain skills and find employment.

The grant was awarded to WorkForce Central and the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council in partnership with Washington State Employment Security Department, Thurston County Economic Development Council and the City of Lakewood, due to the Base Realignment and Closure action [BRAC] of 2005 and subsequent relocation of military personnel and families to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Of the 825 to be assisted, 600 will be military spouses and 225 will be civilian defense workers impacted by the formation of Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

“Our service members and their spouses sacrifice greatly for our nation,” Linda Nguyen, WorkForce Central CEO, said. “Military spouses delay their own career pursuits in order to support their spouses through multiple deployments and relocations. It’s only right that we find ways to give back to them.”

WorkForce Central, as the workforce investment board for Pierce County, and the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council, the workforce investment board for Thurston County, will administer the program at a local level.

“I welcome this opportunity to partner with my Thurston County counterpart and with our economic development partners to not only increase our local talent base but to help employers fill available jobs with our local workforce,” Nguyen said.

“The partners bring depth and breadth of workforce and economic development experience to this effort and will work to integrate and replicate best practices to provide exceptional services and outcomes to our respective communities,” Mike Kennedy, Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council Executive Director, said.

Services will be available at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and at WorkSource Centers within Pierce and Thurston Counties. Services will include career coaching, case management, job training, supportive services and employment linkage.

The first phase of the program will involve an impact study that will identify existing skill gaps within the regions’ major industries to ensure training funds are used effectively to skill up individuals for available jobs now and in the near future. The second phase will be to implement a service delivery plan that will assist residents with training and employment needs. The final phase will focus on job placement services for those who have completed training.

For more information, contact WorkForce Central at http://www.workforce-central.org . If Pierce County residents want to see if they qualify for these services, or if businesses are interested in hiring from this talent base, they may submit their contact information via the Web site. Once the program starts, WorkForce Central will contact those who have submitted their information.