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Our Mission: Lead a dynamic, demand-driven workforce system.
January 2014

Spokane County Open Doors Reengagement Program Comes to Next Generation Zone


Open Doors is a new program designed to reengage young adults ages 16-21 who have recently dropped out of high school or are at risk of doing so. The program, made possible by Washington's Student Retrieval Act of 2010, will begin to serve students early next month.


Students will follow one of two pathways. The Gateway to College program at Spokane Falls Community College is the high school diploma pathway where eligible students will be enrolled in Spokane County Open Doors while concurrently enrolling at SFCC. The GED skills building pathway is at the Next Generation Zone, where students will study to earn a high school equivalent diploma, taught by an instructor from Spokane Community College.


In partnership with the Next Generation Zone, all students will be connected to work-based learning opportunities, such as career exploration through internships, job shadows, industry tours and employment training. A case manager, with training in career and education opportunities, will also help them create a plan for taking the next steps in their education and careers.


"The point is to help them see the relevancy between school and work," said Heidi Peterson, Next Generation Zone manager.  "The Next Generation Zone is really key to this because it's already doing all these things."


NorthEast Washington Educational Service District 101 (NEWESD) is partnering with Spokane Public Schools and West Valley School District in this initial pilot, but the ultimate goal is to include every school district in Spokane County. The pilot will begin by serving 35 students a month.

Youth Finds Career Path and Job Experience


Tanner, 20, never really enjoyed school. He graduated, but he didn't think he'd go back. He went to work as a line cook and spent three years at minimum wage. He knew the restaurant industry wasn't for him so he went to work as a lift operator at Mt. Spokane.


When the season closed, he went to WorkSource, which referred him to the Next Generation Zone. He had planned to become an electrician, but when an apprenticeship didn't pan out, he was open to other options. His career coach Robin Knott thought he would be a good candidate for Air Washington at Spokane Community College, which trains people in the aerospace industry.


Tanner was accepted into the program, and within two weeks, he was five weeks ahead in math. "I'm doing second year engineering math, and it's starting to click," he said. 


However, he still needed employment so he went to Air Washington Navigator Mary Stanton, who referred him to Associated Painters. He could tell the company was uneasy since he is young and had no prior experience in the field. Robin went with Tanner to Associated Painters and offered an On-the-Job Training contract, which helps defray the cost of training a new employee. "I think it was a big help," said Tanner. "It eased their minds." Robin was also able to help outfit him with the proper attire needed to work in manufacturing.


Now Tanner works swing shift painting airplanes so his days are free to attend class. He is planning on getting his associate degree at SCC and then transferring to a four-year university to earn a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.  


He said the Next Generation Zone was a huge help in getting him on a career path. "I wouldn't even have known about the job. I didn't even know we painted planes in Spokane," he said. 

Mattke Re-elected to US Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council 


WDC CEO Mark Mattke was re-elected to the United States Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council Board of Directors for a third term at its January annual meeting. 


He also served on a panel that included leaders from workforce investment boards of Ft. Worth, TX, and Nashville, TN, to discuss innovative partnerships between the workforce and community college systems. The council works with representatives from cities across the US to identify key issues in workforce development, advance and advocate policy with Congress and the US Department of Labor, and share best practices in order to more effectively respond to business and job seeker needs. 

Washington State Becomes Work Ready: WDC Partners to Expand NCRC Statewide 


Staff from the WDC, along with Association of Washington Businesses, Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing (representing the Washington State Board for Community & Technical Colleges), Lower Columbia Community College, and Workforce Snohomish, traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina this month to participate in an ACT-sponsored Work Ready Communities Academy Session. Washington joins approximately 15 other states who have been previously certified as "Work Ready," and is participating in the current academy with Michigan and North Carolina to learn about a variety of methods for implementing the National Career Readiness Certificate statewide.

The National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) is a work readiness credential that can be earned after the successful completion of three WorkKeys assessments that are designed to measure the tester's ability to apply concepts in the workplace. The assessment areas include reading, math, and critical thinking. Employers from across the county have been using the assessments to select the best possible employees based on their specific skill sets. Recently, Bill Hoffer, CEO of Hoffer Plastics Corporation in Elgin, Illinois, was interviewed for PBS Newshour about why his company uses the NCRC

"One of the primary reasons we are interested in Washington being recognized as a Work Ready state is to demonstrate the skills of our workforce. The data we collect can be used for business recruitment and expansion, helping a job seeker better understand and promote their core competencies, assisting businesses with finding the right employees and aligning education and training with the needs of employers," said Dawn Karber WDC Chief Operating Officer. 

In addition to the team who traveled to North Carolina, there are a variety of individuals and agencies exploring how to implement the NCRC across in Washington, including Governor Inslee, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Department of Commerce and Employment Security Department.
In This Issue
Youth Finds Career Path and Job Experience
Mattke Reelected to US Conf of Mayors WDC
Washington State Becomes Work Ready

Upcoming Events 


Off-Base Transition Assistance Program Class

January 31

9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

WorkSource Spokane

130 S Arthur Street

Spokane, WA 99202


WDC Board Meeting

February 12

7:30 - 9:30 a.m.

Lincoln Center

1316 N Lincoln
Spokane, WA 99201



March 6
Next Generation Zone
901 E Second Street
Spokane, WA 99202


WDC Member Nancy Nelson was named 2013 Best Local Business Woman by Inland Business Catalyst. She is the president of Humanix and serves at chair of the WDC's Youth Council.

 In the News

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The Spokane Area Workforce Development Council is an equal opportunity employer and provider of employment and training services.  Auxiliary aids are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Washington Relay Service (TTY) 1-800-833-6388 or 711.