OVERVIEW: Workforce Education is comprised of two major state funded programs and two
college-wide student services. The two major programs are Worker Retraining and WorkFirst.
These programs are state funded through the Washington State Board for Community and
Technical Colleges (SBCTC) and promote North’s mission of providing a supportive, responsive
teaching environment for special needs students. The college-wide services are Career Services
and the Internship Program.
The Worker Retraining Program was enacted by the legislature in 1993 as the Workforce
Employment Act. It was created in response to dramatic changes in the structure of
Washington's economy, the layoffs of thousands of workers in major industries, and the longterm need for training programs for Washington citizens. This law has significantly expanded
the training available to the thousands of jobless workers who need to change careers in order to
re-enter the workforce. North Seattle Community College’s Worker Retraining Program has
provided training services to approximately 4,500 students since 1993.
WorkFirst was passed into law in 1998 as Washington’s version of the federal welfare reform
program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). WorkFirst promotes work as the
primary means to help families raise their incomes, reduce dependency on welfare and leave
poverty. To do this, WorkFirst provides its “parents” with access to training and support in order
to get “a job, a better job, a better life”. NSCC’s WorkFirst Program yearly offers approximately
200 TANF and low-income parents, pre-employment and job training programs to enhance their
ability to get and keep a job that pays a salary allowing the family to become self-sufficient as
part of North’s commitment to welfare reform.
The activities of these two programs are very similar, although the target populations are
different. Potential students are introduced to the programs by an orientation process. From
there, they met with an appropriate Workforce Education staff member who does intake,
assessment, eligibility determination, financial aid eligibility, admission and enrollment into
professional/technical training programs or preparatory programs such as ESL, ABE, GED, or
Family Literacy. Students may be eligible for their tuition, fees and books to be paid by the
program into which they are enrolled. Students also receive support services and career
counseling, placement into internships or work-study, tutoring if necessary and the opportunity
to do job search leading to job placement. NSCC has a cooperative agreement with the
Employment Security Department (ESD) to house an ESD employee on site. In addition,
WorkSource partners maintain regular hours on campus to provide services to students.
Workforce Education collaborates with other departments of NSCC such as Registration,
Financial Aid, Women’s Services, Educational Access, Advising, Testing Center, and Adult
Basic Education as well as various professional/technical program instructional staff.
Workforce Education shares staff with Financial Aid, Advising and Adult Basic Education.
Career Services and the Internship Program are value added resources at NSCC. Career Services
provides students tools and skills to find employment by coordinating job fair events, displaying
job postings, conducting quarterly workshops, maintaining a computer lab with a fax machine,
providing directions for on-line career exploration. Career Services works with all students on
campus and the local community. The Internship Program works with students, employers,
faculty, and staff to facilitate students successfully completing internships related to their field of
study. Last year (summer 2004 to spring of 2005), 118 students were placed in internships
through the program. Internships are marketed through the quarterly schedule, job/internship
fairs, and by word-of-mouth. Internships have also been included in the Worker Retraining and
WorkFirst annual work plans as requirements for educational completion.
In addition, Workforce Education is responsible for distributing Perkins Emergency Assistance
Grants. These grants are awarded to students in need who are pursuing a professional/technical
certificate or degree or are an ABE/GED/ESL completion. Approximately $16,000 a year is
used to fund student requests for books, parking passes, uniforms, supplies, child care and
various other items. Students apply for assistance on a quarterly basis.
Workforce Education fully relates to the mission of NSCC. The Worker Retraining and
WorkFirst Programs change lives through education. The Worker Retraining Program focuses
on individuals who have been laid off their jobs or have lost their jobs through industry closures,
displaced homemakers, or are self employed and have closed their business. These individuals
need to be retrained so that they can re-enter the workforce. WorkFirst parents need to learn
marketable skills so that they can secure employment and become self-sufficient. Workforce
Education staff works closely to support each student and ensure that he or she is in the
professional/technical program that best meets their interests and goals as well as assisting them
in overcoming their immediate barriers prohibiting achievement of academic success. In
addition, each Worker Retraining and WorkFirst student will be assisted in job placement so that
they may realize the benefit of their education.
The WorkFirst Program and the Worker Retraining Program have contractual goals that must be
met for continued funding.
The goals of the WorkFirst Program for 2004 – 2005 were: To increase the number of TANF
parents entering employment with higher than average entry-level wages; to increase job
placements for TANF parents and others with low basic skills or limited English, and to increase
job placements and wage progression for other low-income parents. Funding for the WorkFirst
Program is formula based with 90% based on the previous year’s allocation and 10% based on
performance. The performance funds are received when 50% of the TANF students are enrolled
into Customized Job Skills Training (CJST) with 50% placement into jobs the quarter after
completing training. For 2004-2005, the WorkFirst Program enrolled 50% CJST students and
had a 55% placement rate.
The goals of the WorkFirst Program for 2005 – 2006 have not been established as yet. Funding
was granted for summer quarter only and is based on 80% of the 2004 – 2005 allocation and
20% on performance funding which will also requires a 50% placement rate. We are waiting for
the Governor’s task force that is re-examining Washington’s WorkFirst Program to present its
findings for continued funding. During this waiting period, Workforce Education is working
closely with the instructional side of the College. From an ESL student survey and the need to
develop more short-term, vocational programs for TANF students, efforts are being made to
secure a LEP Worker Grant that would provide ESL students with Certified Nursing Assistant
training and to launch a new Legal Office Assistant certificate program for Spring Quarter.
The goals for the Worker Retraining Program for 2004 –2005 were: Enrollment of 239 FTEs,
60% of worker retraining students must complete their training, 75% of worker trainings students
leaving the program secure employment, and 100% of worker retraining students who are middle
and low-wage earners secure employment at or above the wage they were making when they lost
their job and 85% of high wage earners secure jobs at or above what they were earning prior to
loosing their job and entering training. For 2004 – 2005, we enrolled only 197 FTEs. There is
no information on how many worker retraining students completed the program, secured
employment or recovered wages.
The low enrollment has put the Worker Retraining Program on notice that we need to meet our
enrollment goal for this new program year. For many years, NSCC’s Worker Retraining
Program met and exceeded its enrollment goal. Due to the decrease in the unemployment
numbers in the greater Seattle/King County area, recruitment has become a major activity. The
goals for 2005 – 2006 for the Worker Retraining Program are: Enrollment of 238 FTEs, 60% of
worker retraining students must complete their training, 75% of worker trainings students
leaving the program secure employment, and 100% of worker retraining students who are middle
and low-wage earners secure employment at or above the wage they were making when they lost
their job and 85% of high wage earners secure jobs at or above what they were earning prior to
loosing their job and entering training. This year we are developing a tracking system so that we
will be able to retrieve the statistical information required. Follow-up postcards are being sent to
every student who did not return to school from the previous quarter. Information about students
who are employed is being captured and will be put into a tracking system. Students who are not
in school and not working are being referred to the Career Services Center.
Due to several changes in staffing, the history of Workforce Education (Worker Retraining and
WorkFirst) for the last 5 to 10 years is not available. However, accomplishments for 2005 - 2006
 The Internship Program was revamped and CWE101 and CWE 110 were created.
Internships are being added as requirement to professional/technical programs.
 A part-time Program Assistant for Career Services was hired to help integrate Career
Services in every NSCC student’s experience.
 More job and internship fairs were held and an on-line database of jobs and internships
for students and employers to access was launched.
The Employment Specialist was hired with the goal of placing every Worker Retraining
and WorkFirst student who enters NSCC programs.
Fall Quarter, there were 7 WorkFirst parents with a 3.5 GPA or better. By Spring
Quarter with the use of incentives, there were 25 WorkFirst parents with a 3.5 GPA or
better, including one parent with a cumulative GPA of 4.0.
A Financial Aid procedural booklet is posted on-line for staff use.
The following are direct quotes from the Workforce Education Self Study session:
 A major strength for Workforce Education is that students can get direct services.
 It seems that our understandings of each person’s individual roles within Workforce
Education are well understood through-out the group.
 The front-desk has done a good job of funneling telephone calls to where they need to go.
 The partnerships internally and externally are a strength. We provide quality services
here and students are really happy with the services they are provided.
 Workforce Education has the ability to change people’s lives for the better.
 Workforce Education fosters a sense of community within our area.
 Cooperation among the team members when events need to be coordinated or supported.
 Getting off-site and working within our partners agencies has been a great success.
 A challenge is communicating internally and externally what the Workforce Education
office does and who connects the student to services.
 Not meeting our Worker Retraining FTE is a major concern/importance.
 A better way to track students and code them properly needs to be developed.
 Documenting policies and procedures like within a best practices guide needs to be
 The ability to come together with our internal /external partners as a group regularly is
 Lack of storage space is a concern for supplies and marketing material that can impact
the environment.
 Concerned with the time it takes to get programs up and running, it seems that it takes far
too long for short-term or long-term programs to be approved and available.
 Marketing has fallen a lot on Worker Retraining department to initiate and attract new
students. Useful strategies might be better discovered/implemented for our programs by
a marketing professional.
 We could do a better job in enhancing our outreach on the Employment Security side; it
has had a little bit of attention, but should/could be highlighted/refined more.
 The true plan for ESD benefits and DSHS is not training, but to get reemployed, so
aligning our goals more in sync with our outside partners needs to be addressed.
 Adjustments need to be made which will draw the focus from FTEs to placement goals.
 The co-location project is a concern and opportunity for growth, how will this look, how
will we all work together, is ESD trying to replace community college Career Services
departments. Will this money streamline the services we offer or free up money from the
co-lo salary?
WorkFirst’s budget has been steadily declining over the years and this is a concern. This
gradual decline of incoming monies implies that there is not a need for these services,
which is just not the case.
Manage flow of information from TACs.
 Set-up schedules for quarterly meetings with registration.
 Create policy and procedure manual (best practices so when someone leaves or is sick,
someone else can pick up their responsibilities).
 Create job analysis for all team members.
 Develop process for tracking students and job placements.
 Develop more short programs that meet employer’s expectations.
 Pay attention to improving exit nine coding.
 Coordinate tutors among the various departments on campus.
 Plan more group activities geared towards connecting with our outside partners.
 Develop more dynamic short-term training programs.
 Develop quality programs that meet market demands.
 Listen to employers on Advisory committees, implement ideas.
 Create and post team vision for Workforce Education.
 Create exit survey and process for completing them for students we have served through
out the year (orientation packet?).
 Include Workforce Education as a campus player so that the department isn’t left out of
communications and decisions.
STAFF MEMBERS, 2005 - 2006:
Workforce Education reports to Mary Ellen O’Keeffe, Executive Dean of Profession/Technical
Programs and Workforce Education.
Jan Stephenson, Workforce Education Director
Nancy Kick, Educational Advisor
Carol Wells, Worker Retraining Program Coordinator
Zee Triplett, WorkFirst Family Support Specialist
Tara Meyer, Workforce Education Program Assistant
Robin Schneider, Financial Aid Program Coordinator
Janet Sekijima, Career Services Specialist
Lisa Daly, Career Services Program Assistant
Kurt Simmons, Internship Coordinator
Sharlene Montrope, Work Study Student
Jim Wray, Employment Security Department Co-Location Representative
Jon Frodema, Employment Specialist