Lessons Learned in Workforce Innovation: How Ten Governors are Redesigning Workforce Systems for Better Employment Outcomes

Throughout 2021, NGA Workforce Innovation Network grantees carried out unique initiatives to identify and close gaps in jobseeker service delivery in alignment with its Governor’s workforce and economic recovery goals. This brief includes ten case studies of state objectives, activities, and outcomes achieved during the grant period as well as state policy options for coordinating jobseeker service deliver for better employment outcomes.


Executive Summary

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the public workforce development system has proved essential in supporting newly unemployed individuals with reemployment supports. Millions of Americans have relied on unemployment insurance, job search and placement assistance, and other services for nutrition, housing, and childcare supports provided by federal, state and local agencies.

In addition to changing the nature of work for many workers and employers, the pandemic has also disrupted the way many such state and local services are delivered. For example, many services shifted toward virtual delivery methods, including through the adoption of new technologies. Meanwhile, jobseekers and families demonstrated a greater need for multiple, well-coordinated supports at one time. Driven by the unprecedented demand for these services, state leaders developed innovations to improve access to services for new customers, drive engagement among the business community, and deliver better data about the impact of reemployment programs.

The Workforce Innovation Network is helping states build capacity for near-term innovation and longer-term strategy to prepare their workforces for a post-COVID-19 economy. It serves as a non-partisan learning and action collaborative for state leaders who have demonstrated strong commitments to building a resilient workforce. Learn more…

To help states build capacity for innovation and interventions across the workforce system to support a more equitable economic recovery, ten Governors were selected to join the inaugural cohort of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices Workforce Innovation Network (NGA WIN). In March 2021, state teams from Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Illinois, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, and Washington, received $100,000 to design, launch, and scale innovations to improve their jobseeker service delivery systems. States applied these funds to support project coordination and implementation, conduct research, invest in technological solutions, and launch marketing and outreach initiatives to drive user engagement in new employment tools and products.

While all ten states participating in NGA WIN implemented a similar innovation process design to identify and close gaps in jobseeker service delivery, each state carried out a unique initiative aligned with its Governor’s workforce and economic recovery goals. This brief includes ten case studies of state objectives, activities, and outcomes achieved during the grant period.

  1. 1. Place jobseekers at the center of service delivery design and implementation.
  2. 2. Engage stakeholders to develop responsive solutions to support underserved communities.
  3. 3. Adopt data management procedures to coordinate service delivery across programs and service areas.
  4. 4. Adopt shared definitions and metrics to facilitate accountability.
  5. 5. Prioritize short-term training and employment opportunities that connect to support services and quality career pathways.
  6. 6. Leverage new technologies to streamline and integrate service delivery.
  7. 7. Build capacity through training to enable frontline staff to identify and address local employment needs.
  8. 8. Adopt a statewide, unified brand to market available services to jobseekers and employers.

State Policy Options for Coordinating Jobseeker Service Delivery for Improved Workforce Outcomes

1. Place jobseekers at the center of service delivery design and implementation.

In partnership with local workforce area board members, front-line staff and community stakeholders, several NGA WIN state teams mapped the journeys of jobseekers and employers through the network of American Job Centers. States emphasized Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Titles I and III, which provide employment and training to jobseekers, especially those who are low-income or low-skilled. Through this mapping process, states identified service delivery gaps in the workforce system, as well as the referral process used to connect jobseekers with other common public programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and veteran service programs. States have since implemented improvements including rearranging the order in which applications are processed, reducing duplicative customer data collection, and introducing the use of virtual assistants to prioritize staff time on customers who require the most support. States also developed new partnerships to promote equity within the public workforce system. For example, in Missouri, a partnership between the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development and the Rehabilitative Services for the Blind led to the creation of new positions aimed at helping visually impaired individuals to navigate the workforce system.   

Featured States: Hawai‘i, Illinois, and Missouri.

2. Engage stakeholders to develop responsive solutions to support underserved communities.

At the height of the pandemic, states found creative ways to gather qualitative data on how workforce services met current customer needs. Several states launched hybrid, (virtual and in-person) focus groups for priority populations. Other states contracted third parties to conduct informational interviews with customers during the design and development of new tools and processes. Not only did these focus groups and interviews help inform highly responsive solutions, but they also helped increase buy-in from local stakeholders. For example, in Arizona, the Arizona Commerce Authority partnered with a third party to conduct interviews and focus groups with over 100 Local Workforce Area stakeholders, including the Nineteen Tribal Nations. Together, partners developed system requirements for a new technology solution to promote coordinated service across the state’s ecosystem of supportive service providers. With a 98% response rate from local areas and tribal communities, the state facilitated long-term buy-in and a needs-driven state solution.

Featured States: Arizona, Illinois, and Nevada.

3. Adopt data management procedures to coordinate service delivery across programs and service areas.

Across the NGA WIN cohort, states improved access to services, reduced the burden on customers, and reduced duplication. States prioritized new data management procedures to adopt or improve common intake, co-enrollment, shared case management, and performance metric alignment. One way that states implemented these improvements was by creating shared “data trusts” or state memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between state, local, and community-based partners.

For example, in Washington, state leaders prioritized developing a “no wrong door” approach to entering the workforce system by streamlining intake and eligibility across agencies, beginning with a new MOU for all relevant state partners. With the help of a third party, the state is implementing new inter-agency MOUs to codify new service integration protocols and expectations.

Featured States: Colorado and Washington.

4. Adopt shared definitions and metrics to facilitate accountability.

Many states are creating and applying new definitions and measures to facilitate accountability toward shared objectives. For example, several NGA WIN states collaboratively developed new standards for measuring economic self-sufficiency and job quality, among others, to track progress toward state economic development goals. Such metrics are aligned with other adopted measurements, including family-sustaining wage and the cost of living, for example.

In Colorado, the Workforce Development Council invited partners from key state agencies to contribute to a definition of job quality, which was then field-tested with employers via local area workforce boards. In July 2021, the Council adopted and published the definition and an accompanying framework, and they are now piloting a new training program to help employers implement the framework and foster the creation of new, high-quality jobs.  

Featured States: Alabama, Colorado, and Washington.

5. Prioritize short-term training and employment opportunities that connect to support services and quality career pathways.

Several state grantees aligned reemployment practices with efforts to address common career attainment disparities, including those exacerbated by the pandemic, such as geography, race, education attainment, and gender, among others. To close these gaps, states worked with industry partners to define critical occupations that should be considered top priority when developing and modifying state workforce and economic development services. States prioritized factors including industry share and demand, openings, industry or technology changes, and anticipated future job needs.

For example, the Nevada Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation developed a statewide vision and strategic action plan to position all residents for success by expanding and diversifying the state’s pool of employers and industries that offer quality career pathways along with training and career services people need to enter those industries. 

Featured States: Alabama, Nevada, and New Mexico.

6. Leverage new technologies to streamline and integrate service delivery.

States identified a common challenge of aligning unique requirements and application processes of often-siloed workforce and supportive service programs into an accessible, unified experience for jobseekers. In addition to mapping customer journeys, several NGA WIN states also compiled detailed information about each program’s intake process to identify opportunities where technology could streamline services and provide better outcomes data to decision makers. Due the complexity of these programs, states also prioritized creating new data sharing agreements and governance models, often in with external partners as a neutral third party.

For example, Hawai‘i Governor David Ige leveraged a unique public-private partnership to design, procure and implement a one-stop, human-centered digital service delivery hub, Career Acceleration Navigator (HI CAN), for a wide range of state-sponsored services including the state Medicaid program. The prototype began by migrating the state’s existing Unemployment Insurance data into a new data trust before matching jobseekers with an artificially intelligent job coach. The state’s public benefit referral system is expected to be embedded into the HI CAN platform in 2022.

Featured States: Arizona, Hawai‘i, and Washington.

7. Build capacity through training to enable frontline staff to identify and address local employment needs.

Several NGA WIN states made improvements to public workforce service delivery by standardizing applicant intake, while also building local workforce area capacity to identify and address unique employment system challenges on their own. States launched new training programs for local frontline staff on topics including data evaluation, cross-program enrollment, and referral, as well as on new technologies.

In Alabama, state leaders led a series of trainings for state public workforce staff on how to create comprehensive support services packages for eligible customers. The state also launched a regional grant and technical assistance program for local workforce areas to develop a regional strategic plan focused on reaching the state’s increased postsecondary credential attainment and labor force participation.

Featured States: Alabama, Maine, and Missouri.

8. Strengthen partnerships with local workforce areas to adopt a statewide, unified brand to market available services to jobseekers and employers.

Delivering clear and actionable information about public workforce system services is a commonly cited challenge – one that was exacerbated due to the sharp increase in customer demand during the pandemic. Several states cited challenges reaching jobseekers and employers due to disunited state and local workforce program brands, different language used by providers, and under resourced outreach programs. In response, states partnered with marketing experts to gather buy-in from local areas and develop new communication tools about available reemployment services.

For example, in Maine, the state contracted with a local marketing company to launch a change management initiative to unify the local workforce areas and workforce system partners around a “One Workforce” brand, including new branding standards that will be made available to local areas and partners. The state is planning a targeted outreach campaign focused on re-engaging those Mainers who have disconnected from Maine’s workforce system, specifically immigrants, Black, indigenous, and other persons of color, women, veteran, and younger workers between the ages of 18 – 35.

Featured States: Arizona, Maine, and New Mexico.

State Case Studies


“To achieve Alabama’s goal of ensuring that all individuals are self-sufficient, the Alabama Skills-Based Recovery Initiative will be coupled with a continuum of services approach to provide wrap-around services for Alabamians who are struggling to overcome barriers to entering education and the workforce.”

Governor Kay Ivey

Alabama Skills-Based Recovery Initiative

State Team: Alabama Workforce Council, Alabama Community College System, Commission on Higher Education, Commissioner of Human Resources, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation*, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Labor.

The Skills-Based Recovery Initiative integrates education, workforce and human services for Alabama jobseekers displaced by COVID-19 to increase access to occupations that provide a family-sustaining wage. The initiative began by hosting trainings for all public workforce system staff to create comprehensive supportive services packages for jobseekers participating in career pathway programs. The state is also conducting a gap analysis to determine whether each eligible training provider and institute of higher education offer the programs and services people need to enter jobs that are in-demand in their service area.

Results from Governor Kay Ivey’s second survey of underemployed and unemployed jobseekers also informed a customized marketing campaign designed to meet regional industry demand in each of the state’s workforce regions. The state is also sub granting each local area $2,500 to hold local meetings to inform the development of a local strategic plan for meeting labor force needs and participation targets. Alabama is also creating a non-credit training, non-degree credential and prior learning articulation index and an accompanying technical assistance program for employers to create skills-based job descriptions using the Skills-Based Job Description Generator.

Alabama benefited from governor-led strategic planning and coordination across state agencies, as well as employer engagement through the Governor’s Office of Education and Workforce Transformation to extend influence across the state business community. The success of the initiative will be maintained through partnership with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, which will develop and pilot prior learning policies and assessment tools to address shortages in industry demand.


“ARIZONA@WORK will enhance Arizona’s connectivity and technology implementation to support training in targeted occupations including manufacturing, cybersecurity, information technology, and artificial intelligence.”

Governor Doug Ducey

ARIZONA@WORK One-Stop Technological Solution

State Team: Arizona Commerce Authority, Department of Economic Security, Office of Economic Opportunity*, Office of Governor Doug Ducey

ARIZONA@WORK, Arizona’s statewide workforce development network, aims to improve access to essential workforce services, advance digital literacy, and rapidly connect jobseekers to work. Historically, the state faced challenges connecting dislocated workers with employment resources due to a lack of coordination between the services offered in each local workforce area. This new, coordinated and streamlined system will strengthen and simplify engagement for both jobseekers and employers by standardizing co-enrollment of programs and service delivery processes, as well as allowing for more integrated statewide data collection.

To inform the creation of this system, the team collaborated with MSS Business Transformation Advisory to conduct a stakeholder discovery. Through this process, they engaged over 100 state and local workforce partners and service providers in meetings, focus groups and informational interviews to gather feedback on what local workforce areas would want out of a statewide service delivery technology solution. With a 98% response rate from local areas and tribal communities, the state facilitated long-term buy-in and a needs-driven state solution.

Following stakeholder feedback, the state identified a list of potential technology platforms to address process gaps in workforce service delivery and recommendations for how to leverage technologies to promote more coordinated workforce service delivery. As a result, the state is also working to implement new IT system requirements across the ARIZONA@WORK system and incorporate process maps into the state’s IT Workforce Modernization procurement efforts.


“We are committed to building back stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, which means not simply returning to the Colorado way of life that we know and love, but opening new doors of opportunity for those currently out of work or who have been economically impacted.”

Governor Jared Polis

Operationalizing Equity and Job Quality in Workforce Response Services

State Team: Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Higher Education, Colorado Workforce Development Council*, Governor’s Office of Professional Education and Training Innovation, Office of the Future of Work

Colorado prioritized gathering data to understand the supply and demand of state talent by conducting a statewide inventory of state employment data resources. The NGA WIN state team is closing identified gaps in available data through the Colorado Data Trust, a new, multi-agency public-private data governance body that is uniting the state’s data across the state’s talent ecosystem. The state then used data collected to enhance the Governor’s CO POWER ‘21 plan by adding measurable indicators that define employment targets across specific populations relative to the use of, or eligibility for, public assistance. The plan also recommends promoting skills-based hiring and promotion practices to specifically address bias and racial disparities in employment outcomes.

Colorado also developed and field tested with employers a working definition of job quality, which was adopted and published by the Colorado Workforce Development Council, the state’s workforce development board. Through 2021, the state piloted a new training for employers to measure job quality against the state definition using the Working Metrics Platform. Colorado employers can now assess the current level of job quality they offer and establish a process to measure progress, which is reported to the workforce development council.

To sustain agency collaboration and accountability toward achieving shared goals, the state also launched the Colorado Ready Collaborative, a new multi-agency coordinating board led by the Colorado Workforce Development Council. The collaborative is responsible for aligning and implementing strategies outlined in state and federal stimulus proposals. Since its launch, the state has aligned funding streams across multiple agencies and developed a new common enrollment process for jobseekers and families for recovery programs supported by relief and stimulus funds.


“My vision for the state includes a broad shift to a diversified economy with a focus on digital access and equity; an effort we’ve named Hawai‘i 2.0.”

Governor David Ige

Hawai‘i Career Acceleration Navigator “HI-CAN” One-Stop Virtual Service-Delivery Hub

State Team: Department of Budget & Finance, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Office of Enterprise Technology Services, Office of Governor David Y. Ige*, Workforce Development Council

To streamline access to state employment and social services, Hawai‘i ambitiously developed and piloted a human-centered digital, one-stop, service-delivery hub, the Hawai‘i Career Acceleration Navigator, “HI CAN”. During the grant period, the team partnered with Research Improving People’s Lives (RIPL) to coordinate across traditionally siloed programs and develop a multi-year actionable workplan to launch the resource hub and sustain information sharing across state agencies.  

Through its partnership with RIPL, the state began by conducting stakeholder work sessions and program interviews to identify ways to promote better coordination and facilitate data sharing between programs.  The information gathered will inform the development of a cross-agency hub where residents can access a suite of government and private sector resources designed to increase their individual well-being. Through the hub, individuals will be able to apply for state services including unemployment insurance, workforce and digital upskilling, direct assistance programs such as SNAP and TANF, and the state Medicaid program. To align complex program legal and technical requirements, Hawai‘i compiled detailed information about each program’s intake process and created a crosswalk of data fields required for each application.

To promote alignment with other state innovations, the Hawai‘i WIN team merged their efforts with an ongoing initiative through the state’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to implement an interactive work-search platform. This will allow HI CAN to connect jobseekers to upskilling opportunities, career pathways and public benefits, while they pursue new credentials and careers.


“We have a long road to recovery ahead of us, and it will require our state agencies to collaborate and develop new and innovative strategies that build a better and more resilient coordinated-service system. My administration is committed to giving veterans the tools they need to build better lives.”

Governor JB Pritzker

Veterans Coordinated Service Delivery Model

State Team: Community College Board, Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, Department of Employment Security (IDES)*, Department of Human Services, Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Governor JB Pritzker

Illinois launched a cross-agency task force to redesign the state’s veteran service delivery model and better serve high-risk veterans who face significant barriers to employment. Illinois focused on veterans because of the disproportionate barriers they face when entering and maintaining high-quality employment, including culture gaps between military and civilian workplaces, challenges in connecting service members’ skills and abilities to career opportunities, and a lack of seamless integration among veteran programs.

To carry out its redesign strategy, the state team collected preliminary demographic data through the through the U.S. Census, Department of Veterans Affairs, unemployment statistics collected by the Illinois Department of Employment Security, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. Federal data was supplemented with individual state agency reports that track services provided by ethnicity, income and age, as well as mapping services available to veterans by region. Together, the data was compiled into the NGA WIN Veterans Data Research Report and has been used to highlight the diversity of veteran populations entering the local workforce and the barriers that they may face as jobseekers. To fill gaps in qualitative data, the Illinois state team organized and administered statewide focus groups in both urban and rural regions to illustrate the current challenges veteran populations experience when interacting with employment services.

Illinois benefited from a senior leadership team with early buy-in and accountability systems toward shared goals. The state plans to apply lessons learned from the veteran data mapping process to other scenarios to identify potential system solutions for additional underserved populations.


“The Maine Economic Development Strategy is a dynamic roadmap designed to be relevant and flexible over the next ten years with a core message: there is a place in Maine’s economy for everyone.”

Governor Janet Mills

Uniting Maine’s Workforce System through Rebranding and Change Management

State Team: Bureau of Employment Services, Community College System, Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Department of Economic and Community Development, Department of Health and Human Services, Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, State Workforce Board*

Maine’s NGAWIN initiative began by developing an implementation plan for the Grow Local Talent strategy from Governor Janet Mills’ 10-year economic development plan. The team’s plan proposed four key deliverables:

  • (1) Align public workforce programs and funding that support residents to increase their skills and education into a seamless continuum of programs and supports, with a focus on career pathways for in-demand occupations;
  • (2) Work across state agencies to coordinate business marketing, outreach, and engagement efforts to streamline business access to workforce services and talent;
  • (3) Re-brand and re-market Maine’s workforce system so that it is recognized as transparent and easily accessible; and
  • (4) Develop a career portal that aligns Maine’s workforce system and provides an easily accessible entry point for Maine workers and employers.

Within these four deliverables, the Maine team focused grant period activities on re-branding and prototyping of a new, statewide career portal. To accomplish this, Maine launched a series of working groups of state and community partners, before contracting with a local marketing company to develop a new marketing plan and a local marketing pilot. To drive consistency across the workforce system, the state is also planning to issue new state workforce branding standards to local areas. 

To implement the state plan and scale marketing activities, the Maine team plans to work with their community branding partners, technical assistance provider, American Institutes for Research, and InforME, the state’s e-government system. Maine also plans to utilize American Rescue Plan Act funds included in Governor Mills’ “Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan” to carry out plan activities and continue to address systemic barriers to the workforce system.


“Since I became Governor, workforce development has been one of my top priorities, and the desired outcomes of NGA WIN align closely with the work already underway in Missouri.”

Governor Michael Parson

Jobs Centers for the Future

State Team: Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development*, Office of Governor Michael Parson, St. Louis Workforce Development Board, Vocational Rehabilitation Services for the Blind

Missouri set an ambitious goal to build greater capacity to identify and address challenges faced by jobseekers when entering or participating in workforce system programs. Through the Job Centers of the Future initiative, the state set a specific goal to increase jobseeker engagement by 60 percent and reach one million Missourians by 2030.

The Missouri Office of Workforce Development partnered with the state’s largest local workforce area by population, St. Louis County, to develop and dissect a map of how customers move through the workforce system, with an emphasis on the Wagner-Peyser enrollment process. Together, the team identified opportunities to simplify and improve the process, followed by a Statewide Journey Mapping Summit with local boards, local elected officials, and staff to gather their feedback and build stakeholder buy-in. The state is preparing to pilot a new, standardized customer solution in St. Louis County, with a goal of standardizing jobseeker service delivery across all 27 job centers in 2022.

The state also launched a new virtual help desk, an online chat feature that has already reduced user wait time for services, in addition to a mobile application for citizens to gain career services and conduct job searches from mobile phones. With support from Educational Data Systems, Inc., Missouri also worked with local workforce development boards to develop specific performance targets for the number of citizens to be enrolled into Wagner-Peyser and WIOA basic career services. The state plans to host a series of local area trainings in 2022 to build local capacity to implement changes to the Wagner-Peyser enrollment process and new performance metrics.


“As Nevada continues to respond to and recover from the economic repercussions of COVID-19, I strongly support the efforts of the Workforce Innovation Grant to empower individuals seeking new career opportunities.”

Governor Steve Sisolak

Nevada Job Force

State Team: Department of Health and Human Services, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation & Technology, Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation (GOWINN)*, Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation, Nevada System of Higher Education

During the pandemic, disproportionate impacts on the Nevada hospitality industry prompted urgency for new solutions to guide jobseekers toward more sustainable, high-demand careers. Through NGA WIN, the Nevada state team developed a comprehensive plan to align and integrate multiple reemployment and economic development initiatives to connect displaced and underemployed workers with new career opportunities.  As the statewide workforce agency with strong support from Governor Steve Sisolak, GOWINN was well positioned to lead the state in addressing these challenges.

With support from a project consultant, GOWINN and team members engaged key public, private and non-profit stakeholders to develop a common understanding of the workforce development challenges facing Nevada, including gaps in workforce system service delivery and unmet industry demand. Extensive outreach and analysis also highlighted the need for a single integrated, accessible data system to articulate emerging industry skills needs and available training opportunities. To leverage these new data tools, the state aims to launch a coordinated governance structure which will drive the Nevada workforce development system toward a shared vision of prosperity and expand and diversify the state’s pool of employers.

The team hopes to leverage the Governor’s executive power to codify this vision in an executive order that establishes an education and workforce subcabinet to create recommendations for federal funding, agency policy priorities. 

New Mexico

“I have tasked leaders from multiple agencies with coordinating a comprehensive plan that gets New Mexicans trained for diverse work opportunities and directly referred to employment opportunities.”

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham


State Team: Chief Innovation Officer, Department of Workforce Solutions*, Higher Education Department, Human Services Department, Office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, State Workforce Board

New Mexico implemented a three-part strategy to launch ReadyNM, a new virtual career hub dedicated to marketing short- and long-term educational and career pathways to state residents. In partnership with higher education institutions, the New Mexico Department of Higher Education conducted an analysis of all short- and long-term educational pathways in the state. The ReadyNM team used the findings to develop a comprehensive list of training programs, referral programs, as well as eligibility information about each program available on ReadyNM.

Once findings were collected, the Department of Workforce Solutions (DWS) used the Governor’s 10% WIOA set-aside to establish a new grant program to support the creation of new short-term credentials aligned with state economic development goals. The Higher Education Department released a Request for Proposals from public and private higher education institutions and tribal colleges to receive up to $80,000 to establish these new programs. Courses developed thus far include those in healthcare administration, hospitality and food service, fiber optics, and information technology. To promote new programs, the team contracted with a local marketing company to produce marketing materials.

Third, New Mexico DWS created a central chat system and phone line for the staff to simplify the jobseeker referral process. The state also benefited from launching a series of trainings for local staff to learn the new enrollment process, including new technologies.


“Key to our success is an agreement among workforce system partners, including leaders from business and organized labor, to adopt a collective impact campaign that supports inclusive, equitable economic recovery by connecting the most economically vulnerable with clear, navigable routes to livable wages in high-demand, high-wage fields.”

Governor Jay Inslee

Evaluating and Streamlining Service Delivery for Self-Sufficiency

State Team: Board for Community & Technical Colleges, Department of Commerce, Department of Social and Human Services, Employment Security Department, Department of Services for the Blind, Office of Governor Jay Inslee, Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board*

Washington’s primary goal during the NGA WIN grant period was to advance an inclusive, equitable economic recovery by implementing a “no wrong door” approach for jobseekers entering the workforce system. With support from the Governor’s office, the team advanced the state workforce board’s existing initiative to align multiple economic recovery efforts by mapping all state recovery initiatives, resulting in a new inventory of programs available to jobseekers.   

Once the state identified opportunities for improvement, the state created four objectives:

  • Develop a comprehensive map of jobseeker and business services offered by workforce system partners; 
  • Create a common set of counseling and service planning tools that can be used across all essential support service programs to help people better navigate services; 
  • Identify one or more systemic measures of collective impact to guide partners toward a shared vision of success; and  
  • Establish inter-agency memoranda of understanding to codify new service integration protocols and expectations. 

To drive partners toward shared measures and outcomes, the state launched a new strategy to measure the service delivery ecosystem’s effectiveness in helping jobseekers become economically self-sufficient. The state team conducted research on existing system impact measures and leveraged the University of Washington Self-Sufficiency Calculator. Through mid-2022, the team will convene workforce system partners, including support service providers, to establish and implement a new impact measure of self-sufficiency across the state’s public assistance programs.

  • * Indicates state grantee team lead.

About the NGA Workforce Innovation Network

The National Governors Association Workforce Innovation Network is a non-partisan learning and action collaborative for state leaders who have demonstrated strong commitments to developing a resilient workforce. The initiative is dedicated to building state capacity for near-term innovation and longer-term strategy development to prepare state workforces for a post-COVID-19 economy. 

NGA WIN was launched in January 2021 in partnership with its founding sponsor, the Cognizant Foundation. NGA WIN is an initiative of the NGA Center for Best Practices’ Workforce Development and Economic Policy Program.


The NGA Center thanks the Governors and state workforce system leaders who participated in and contributed to the inaugural cohort of NGA WIN. Without their leadership and commitment to sharing best practices, this brief, and the resources included here, would not be possible.

The NGA Center would also like to thank the Cognizant Foundation for their sponsorship and partnership, as well as the WIN Advisory Group for the technical assistance, including American Institutes for Research, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), Educational Data Systems, Inc. (EDSI), and Research Improving People’s Lives (RIPL) for their ongoing technical assistance to state grantees.

This brief was prepared by Katherine Ash, consulting director for the NGA Workforce Innovation Network, Madelyn Rahn, a former policy analyst at the NGA Center, with additional guidance and support provided by Rachael Stephens, program director for workforce development and economic policy at the NGA Center. The authors thank colleagues Loren Shimanek, Katie Nichols, and Kristin Baddour for their contributions to this resource and to the success of NGA WIN.