OLYMPIA – Washington workers negatively affected by COVID-19 will gain employment and training for in-demand occupations that pay a living wage through a new $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL).

The state’s Employment Security Department (ESD) partnered with the Washington Workforce Association (WWA), the state Workforce Board (WTECB), and other key stakeholders to win two National Dislocated Worker Grants. In total, USDOL has awarded $24 million in recovery grants to Washington – the largest amount of any state to date.

This award will help the state pivot toward economic recovery by employing people immediately when possible, while providing others with training for the jobs of the future. The emphasis for distribution of these funds will be on equity for vulnerable populations and maximizing workforce program efforts that help people get living-wage jobs.

“We are doing all we can to help Washingtonians impacted financially by COVID and this is another great resource to help us do that,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “These collaborative efforts to bring funds, innovation and support to workforce development initiatives across Washington help ensure this continues to be a place where all families and communities have the opportunity to thrive.”

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted hundreds of thousands of workers, and as the economy reopens there will be an increased demand for re-employment training and support services, as well as virtual service-delivery strategies. The ESD, WWA and WTECB are currently determining the highest and best use of the funds across the state. All agree the grants will help kick start the state’s recovery efforts and are committed to seeking additional funding opportunities.

“This a real win for workers in this state, and a great example of the dedication of ESD and our partners to continuously enhance our state’s workforce system,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “These funds will help Washingtonians get back to work as our economy reopens. I am so grateful our agency is part of this collaborative effort to help communities and families across our state.”

“I completely agree with the Commissioner on the power of partnerships and appreciate the efforts by all. Because of our collective approach, USDOL recognized the Washington state workforce system as an effective coalition of leaders,” said Kevin Perkey, Chief Executive Officer of Workforce Southwest and Chair of the WWA. The WWA represents the 12 Workforce Development Councils across the state that work with a multitude of partners to drive employment and training initiatives within their communities.

“Working with this passionate group of local and state leaders is inspiring and gives me great confidence that we will — together — help all Washingtonians find a path forward to economic recovery” said Eleni Papadakis, executive director the Washington’s Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board.

People who have lost their job through no fault of their own are eligible to get benefits under the grant rules. If interested, they should contact their local WorkSource center via phone or email. All WorkSource offices currently are closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.