Worksystems, the Portland Metro Workforce Development Board has worked for years to transform the regional workforce system and realize the vision of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Passed in 2014, WIOA marked the most significant change to the Federal adult education, vocational rehabilitation, and workforce development systems in more than a decade. WIOA calls for stronger alignment of workforce, education, vocational rehabilitation, and other human services systems to improve the structure and delivery of regional workforce services, particularly to individuals with the greatest barriers to employment.
Under WIOA, Worksystems, in partnership with local elected officials, and at the direction of the State of Oregon Workforce Talent and Development Board, is required to submit a comprehensive 4-year Plan that supports the vision of WIOA, State and local goals. The Plan sets priorities for the regional workforce development system, including the programs and services delivered through WorkSource Portland Metro and the NextGen youth provider network.
COVID-19 has heightened the importance of this work and Plan. The pandemic has resulted in the steepest economic downturn since the Great Depression. While the full impact of the crisis has yet to unfold, Black, Indigenous and People of Color, women, immigrants, disabled individuals, younger, less educated, and lower-income workers have disproportionately suffered from the health and economic devastation caused by the pandemic.
To return from the COVID-19 crisis as a stronger region, we must strengthen our commitment to those residents most impacted. We must put racial equity and front-line workers at the center of the recovery. We must also put decision making and solution building as close to the community as possible - allowing local voices to respond to local economic circumstances, priorities and needs. We must build connections beyond skills and address other barriers such as childcare, transportation and housing. We must support equitable economic recovery that is strategically responsive to the current economic context and promotes the creation of high-quality regional jobs.
Our Plan attempts to lay the foundation to support equitable economic recovery, build a more inclusive, coordinated, and adaptive regional workforce system, and foster a more equitable and prosperous future for our region. Please let us know what you think. The Plan is posted below and we are seeking public comment through March 15, 2021. Please email your comments to email@example.com.