Home About Us Contact Us


Learn more about Talent and Prosperity for All

Print Print Friendly

TAP Accelerator: Phase 1 Upskill-Backfill Initiative Grants


The Workforce Board has awarded $1.6 million in competitive grants to seven different projects designed to “upskill” entry- and mid-level employees through additional education and training that moves them ahead in their careers, while “backfilling” their open positions with new workers. An estimated 550 workers will be provided additional training to advance their careers, with another 300 new hires backfilling projected openings. Read more about the projects (below).

Watch the video: Workforce Board Executive Director Eleni Papadakis provides a narrated PowerPoint overview on distributing these funds.


Governor's Office Partners on Upskill-Backfill

The Upskill Backfill Initiative is one of several partnerships between the state’s Workforce Board and the Governor’s Office aimed at advancing the state’s workforce plan “Talent and Prosperity for All,” or TAP. Earlier this year, Gov. Inslee invested $3 million in federal workforce funding to accelerate implementation of the TAP plan, with a little over half of that going toward Upskill Backfill projects.

Technical Staff Support

Mike Brennan - (360) 709-4616

Wesley Nguyen - (360) 709-4641


Project Focus – Healthcare

Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council

(Thurston, Mason, Lewis, Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties)

This region has a high demand for healthcare services and workers. In rural parts of this region the focus will be on upskilling homecare workers to certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and backfilling with entry-level workers, with a focus on populations with barriers. In the region’s urban areas, the project will upskill CNAs to acute care CNAs. Together, the project will train 65 people, including: 40 CNAs; 23 lower-skilled long-term care workers (home care aides); and two home care aide community instructors. Partners: Centralia College, DSHS Aging and Long Term Support Administration (ALTSA), Morton General Hospital, South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Providence Mother Joseph Care Center, New Market Skills Center, Aging and Long-Term Support Administration (ALTSA), SEIU and the Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers. Grant Amount: $275,000 (with $160,000 leveraged totaling $435,000)

Project Focus Building Engineers in the Construction Industry

Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County

The demand for building engineers is expected to increase 14 percent over the next 10 years in the greater Seattle area, according to Economic Modeling Specialists. An added challenge is an aging workforce at the Senior Building Engineer level. This project will upskill potential leaders, enabling them to operate  HVAC, electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems in high-performance buildings and backfill with new employees. The project is intended to: engage 10 businesses; train 100 current workers (with 50 receiving wage increases); and bring 30 new hires into the newly opened positions. Partners: Renton Technical College, Construction Center of Excellence, TRIO, NW Business Solutions Inc., ANEW, Emerald Cities Seattle, WBEC Steering Committee (Wright Runstad/Western WA Stationary Engineers), Associated General Contractors (AGC) Education Foundation, and Western Washington Stationary Engineers. Grant Amount: $226,855 (with $171,257 leveraged, totaling $398,112)

Project Focus – Construction Heavy/Highway

WorkForce Central (Pierce County)

There is a significant need for foremen in this industry and demand is expected to grow. This project will upskill journey-level construction workers to foremen and backfill them with entry-level workers. The project is designed to: engage two businesses; train 20 existing workers for foreman responsibilities; hire 40 new jobseekers, with 25 coming from populations facing barriers. The new jobseekers will obtain one or more of the following: a high school credential, transition to postsecondary education, or an industry-recognized postsecondary certificate. Partners: Tucci & Sons, Lakeside Industries, Construction Center of Excellence, AGC Education Foundation, and International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). Grant Amount: $250,000 (with $149,000 leveraged totaling $399,000)

See cool photos of this project!

Project Focus – Aerospace Manufacturing

South Central Workforce Development Council

(Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania and Yakima Counties)

It is difficult to recruit new talent to this rural area that straddles the Washington-Oregon border in the Bingen, Wash./ Hood River, Ore., area along the Columbia Gorge. This project will upskill workers within partner companies and backfill with new employees, with a focus on populations facing barriers, including veterans, out- of-school youth, long-term unemployed, low income and older workers. The partner companies have committed to help grow the talent pipeline within the region. The project is designed to: engage five employers; provide upskill training for 95 current workers (with 86 receiving wage increases); and hire 67 jobseekers, with 32 coming from populations facing barriers to employment. Partners: Boeing-Insitu, Custom Interface Inc., Zepher Inc., Sagetech Inc., Innovative Composite Engineering, Klickitat County Economic Development Council, Clark College, Goldendale High School, Columbia High School. Grant Amount: $250,000 (with $396,053 leveraged totaling $646,053)

Project Focus – Healthcare

Spokane Area Workforce Development Council

The healthcare and social assistance sector accounts for nearly one in every five jobs in Spokane County and as the population ages, demand is expected to increase. This project will upskill medical and nursing assistants to become registered nurses and backfill with new employees, with a focus on populations with barriers. During the course of this project, a cohort of 15 individuals will: complete courses for entry into an Associate in Nursing program; complete the first quarter in the Associate of Nursing program; and receive a promotion to nurse technician with wage increases. Participants will be supported by a: college navigator; study and tutoring lab; 3D software for study; tuition, books and fees; and support services. A total of 15 new hires are expected to backfill new openings. Partners: St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute, Providence Health Care, Spokane Community College, Greater Spokane Incorporated, Greater Minds Initiative. Grant Amount: $142,614 (with $169,856 leveraged totaling $312,470)

Project Focus Manufacturing

Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County

Skilled workers are in great demand from the manufacturing industry. Right now, the limited supply has employers poaching talent from one another in the region. This project will upskill manufacturing workers into leadership positions and backfill with entry-level workers, with a focus on populations with barriers including those with disabilities. The project is designed to: provide advanced training to 250 current workers (of which 175 will receive wage increases); bring in 100 new hires to the industry, with an estimated 10 employers increasing their overall FTE counts. Partners: Genie (Terex brand), Astronics AES and Spectralux, Everett Community College Corporate and Continuing Education Center, Lake Washington Institute of Technology, Seattle Goodwill Industries, and Seattle Housing Authority. Grant Amount: $275,000 (with $248,900 leveraged totaling $523,900)

Project Focus – Healthcare

Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County

King County faces an ongoing need for healthcare workers.To help meet this demand, area employers would like to tap promising talent from entry-level positons to fill critical clinical openings. This project will upskill current workers in positions such as environmental services, food services, and customer service to move into clinical roles such as nursing assistant and medical assistant, and backfill entry-level positions with jobseekers, with a special focus on populations facing barriers to employment. The project is designed to: engage two employers; support advancement training for 20 current workers; and facilitate 20 new hires to replace the workers who have advanced into new positions. Partners: Neighborhood House, Kaiser Permanente, Harborview Medical Center, the Washington Federation of State Employees, and other labor entities. Grant Amount: $241,480 (with $163,170 leveraged totaling $404,650)


Staff contact: Wesley Nguyen, (360) 709-4641


The Workforce Board is committed to providing employees and the public, including individuals with disabilities, access to its information and services. For information regarding documents, handouts, other questions, or for people needing special accommodation, please contact Erica Wollen, (360) 709-4608.


Back to TAP Accelerator: Upskill Backfill Initiative main page






Last Modified 8/19/2019   |   Privacy Statement   |   Site Map   |   Employment   |   Access Washington   |   Register to Vote