One-stop job center connects military service members with employment

WorkSource JBLM is first of its kind in Washington state

Gov. Jay Inslee attends the opening ceremony for the one-stop American Jobs Center this month at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. (Washington State Employment Security Department Photo)

Allah Jackson worked as a human resources manager in the U.S. Army for more than four years, but as his time in the Army ended, he wanted a career change. He set his sights on information technology.

He used several workforce development services, including a WorkSource program called Camo2Commerce, and found a training opportunity months before his Army separation date that was geared toward Amazon Web Services. At the end of the training, he was guaranteed an interview with Amazon, and that interview panned out.

“I was able to do the training and gain some IT skills that I wouldn’t have gained without the program, as well as the interview that actually landed me my job at Amazon,” Jackson said.

With the opening of WorkSource Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), a One-Stop American Job Center on base, Jackson and other service members may find it easier to hunt for a job. At the new center, they can receive a full range of career services all under one roof. The job center is the first of its kind in Washington state and one of the first in the nation.

Allah Jackson talks to Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this month about his transition from working as a human resourced manager in the U.S. Army to landing a job at Amazon. (Official Governor’s Office Photo)

WorkSource JBLM also will support service members’ families, military retirees, federal employees and contractors, and reservists. The center offers robust job-searching services, training referrals, career counseling and transition resources, and the assistance comes from a variety of public, private and nonprofit sources, according to the state’s Employment Security Department. Clients can visit in person or access the center’s information online.

Earlier this month, Gov. Jay Inslee was at the base to help celebrate the job center’s opening.

“Washington ranks among the top five most popular states for military personnel separating from the service with nearly 600,000 veterans currently living here,” Inslee said. “Our state benefits from our veterans’ strong work ethic, flexibility and passion. I’m proud we are offering these workforce development resources to help prepare and connect transitioning military service members, their families and others at JBLM with great jobs. They’ve served us, and I’m proud to serve them.”

Gov. Jay Inslee is joined by other dignitaries earlier this month as they celebrate the opening of a one-stop American Job Center at Joint Base Lewis-Mchord. It is the first of its kind in Washington state and one of the first in the nation. (Washington State Employment Security Department Photo)

Inslee was joined at the grand opening by other dignitaries, including Lourdes “Alfie” Alvarado-Ramos, director of the Washington Department of Veterans Affairs; Dale Peinecke, director of the ESD; Maj. Gen. Mark Stammer; Col. Dan Morgan; and state, local and Workforce Development Council leaders from Pierce and Thurston counties.

The new facility is the latest in a number of centers and connection sites in Washington’s WorkSource network made up of non-profit, private and public entities who come together to connect businesses and job seekers as part of the workforce development system. All WorkSource locations can be found at worksourcewa.com.

Michele Helfgott-Waters talks to Gov. Jay Inslee earlier this month about what it’s like to look for work as a military spouse. (Official Governor’s Office Photo)

During the grand opening, military spouse Michele Helfgott-Waters told Inslee that because military families move so much, she has had six or seven careers during her husband’s one career in the military.

“We are constantly chameleons and reinventing ourselves,” she said of military spouses. “We move, we lose certifications. We move, we lose careers, we lose our network, we lose our contacts.”

Once at JBLM, however, the career services provided there helped her transition from her job as a contractor to a job at the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce.

Since 2011, the U.S. Department of Defense has provided employment services for people leaving military service through the Transition Assistance Program. In 2013, Inslee established the Washington Military Transition Council through an executive order to support more collaboration between workforce developers, including federal, state and local agencies, private companies and nonprofit organizations.

Inslee said he hopes that people leaving military service consider working in state government. Many veterans have proven leadership and teamwork skills, perform well under pressure, respect policy and procedure, and are fast learners.

“We would love to recruit you,” Inslee told service members at the grand opening. “Several agencies are hiring, from in the Washington State Patrol to the Department of Ecology. We have a lot of great opportunities, and I hope you will think about this because we’re looking for talent in the state of Washington.”

The one-stop centers are supported by the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and the system is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The administration has a map to help guide people to one-stop job centers, as well as a toll-free phone number at 877-US-2JOBS (TTY: 1–877–889–5267).

View the entire speaking program from the grand opening, including Inslee’s remarks: