Washington State’s Lifelong Learning Program

Washington State’s Lifelong Learning Program

Happy employee pursuing continuing educationWe know that between now and 2018:

  • Employers will need to fill more than 46 million jobs in the United States
  • Almost two-thirds of those jobs will require some type of post-secondary education

Our major employers are telling us that their number one concern is access to a qualified educated workforce.

Can we solve the problem in time to stay competitive and attract and retain the jobs we want in our state?

Washington State has created the Lifelong Learning Program to encourage workers to continue their educations with the assistance of their employers.  This voluntary employee benefit program, which is the first of its kind in the nation, may give our state’s employers and employees the edge they need to succeed!

How the Lifelong Learning Program works:

Any Washington employer will be able to register to participate in the voluntary program.

  • An employer may choose to participate in the program by matching at some level an amount that an employee chooses to contribute to their lifelong learning account.
  • The employee takes responsibility for advancing in their career by establishing a career development plan, which they also have a financial investment in.
  • The employee may utilize the money for costs associated with their training, such as tuition, books, and supplies.
  • The account is portable, and the employee can take the money with them if they change jobs.

The program will be administered through the state’s Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board.  They, in turn, may partner with financial institutions and other public, private or non-profit organizations.

Since 2009, a pilot program has been running in Thurston, Lewis, Pacific and Grays Harbor counties, funded in part by the Association of Washington Business.  The new statewide program will go into effect June 7th.

An educated workforce is attractive to businesses looking to relocate, as well as businesses who are expanding their workforce.  It’s a win-win for workers and employers to be able to invest in their mutual success!