Lane Workforce Partnership: Providing Opportunities for Job Growth

Lane Workforce Partnership has tasked themselves with preparing workers for jobs in a new and changing economy. This past year, they set some steep goals, many of which they are not only meeting, but exceeding in ways that are going beyond the tangible. As the designated local Workforce Investment Board for Lane County, Oregon, the board is responsible for making targeted investments within the community utilizing federal funds. Lane Workforce Partnership (LWP) operates in line with its mission:


To meet the workforce needs of employers and individuals

through partnership and innovation.


Two primary investments in LWP are WorkSource Lane and At-Risk Youth programs. With the help of committed partners, such as the Department of Human Services, Lane Community College, Oregon Employment Department and Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Lane Workforce Partnership distributed $1,864,950 to Lane County Health and Human Services from July 2016 through June 2017 with the primary goal to deliver employment services to adults and dislocated workers.


Preparing workers for jobs in our new and ever changing economy is the most important role for Lane Workforce Partnership. Countless hours of research go into understanding how jobs differ by industry, including data about job evolution, changes and growth. Lane Workforce Partnership also identifies and shares the needed job skills with the current and emerging workforce. By evaluating current job training programs, LWP is able to determine whether the needs of the employers are being met, or if a disconnect between employers and employees has emerged.


Last fall, LWP partnered with the Technology Association of Oregon, City of Springfield, City of Eugene and Lane County to host Talent Match – Tech Edition. This hiring fair was in response to the closure of the Springfield Veritas site. This event brought over 200 job seekers face-to- face with local tech companies that had immediate job openings.


Preparing youth for future employment is another LWP goal. Over the past year multiple strategies, such as the use of technology to introduce youth to various jobs, connecting industries workforce needs to education, increasing the number of paid work experiences, and increasing graduation rates, were used to prepare Lane County’s youth for future employment. The results were fantastic – with 2,700 youth 14-18 years of age achieving employment.


To foster entrepreneurship in youth, the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation (NEDCO) was awarded $45,000 this past year to partner with Springfield High School to develop a new Entrepreneurship Career and Technical Education (CTE) track focused on the food and beverage industry. The program, Youth Food Innovators, will expand options for youth, create better education outcomes, encourage future generations of business startups, improve workforce preparedness, and align with the economic development strategy for Lane County.


The year-long curriculum, launching in Fall 2017, will help students design, test, produce, package, market and sell a food product. The program will be based at NEDCO’s Sprout Regional Food Hub and aligned with existing CTE programs and local economic development strategies. The end result will be a replicable entrepreneurship curriculum and certification program that can then be shared with any interested school.


When talking with LWP Executive Director Kristina Payne about the most rewarding part of her involvement, she stated that it’s hearing from the real people who benefit from the programs.


“I was at a friend’s house for a BBQ and was chatting with a woman there who thanked me for the work we do. She was a single mom trying to take care of her two children. Because of a training scholarship she received through LWP, she was able to go back to school at Lane Community College. She became a nurse and was given a job opportunity that enables her care for her kids,” said Payne.


Lane Workforce Partnership has helped not only people within our community find long-term employment, but has also lessened the disconnect between employees and employers. Employers are reporting that they have a more qualified applicant pool and the new workforce is more prepared and has the necessary skillset to be successful within our community. Lane County continues to grow, expand and flourish with the support of the Lane Workforce Partnership.