State boosts efforts to connect Washington workers with most-wanted career skills

Commerce awards grants to raise awareness, access to education, training, certifications and employment through apprenticeships, community and technical college programs

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Department of Commerce today awarded three Skilled Worker Awareness program grants to help increase the number of people with skills and credentials for high-demand occupations that do not require a four-year college degree.

Skilled Worker Awareness grant recipients:

  • Global Business Resources (cybersecurity), $11,000
  • Washington Hospitality Association Education Foundation, $32,000
  • Whatcom Community College, $27,000

A 2015 study of workforce supply and demand conducted jointly by three Washington state agencies found gaps in the supply of workers in a number of mid-level occupations, such as production and trades, business management, and services fields including hospitality and culinary. According to the study, as businesses, industries, and workplaces become increasingly complex, employers need workers with skills and education that allow them to adapt and excel in evolving environments.

These workforce supply gaps led the state Legislature to create a new Skilled Worker Awareness program to help prospective workers understand how they can get the skills and credentials to get into the career fields where employers most need skilled workers.

“Pathways to good careers often run through programs outside of four-year colleges and universities,” said Commerce Director Brian Bonlender. “Many employers are struggling to find skilled employees. Promoting these programs can help close that gap for employers, bolster our booming economy and strengthen communities by preparing workers for available jobs with good pay, benefits and long-term opportunity.”

The goal of the Skilled Worker Awareness program is to educate and train individuals to perform skills needed in the workforce, and award industry or state-recognized certificates, credentials, associate degrees, professional licenses and similar evidence of achievement. To learn more about the Skilled Worker Awareness program, visit

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