Marano Fellows Class of 2011

Name: Nancy Yamamoto

City of Seattle, Office of Economic Development

Location: Seattle, Washington
Primary Industry Sector: Business Technology, Healthcare, Industrial Skills and Trade/Logistics
Type of Organization: City agency that is a funder and partner to a number of workforce development entities.

“The opportunity to create systemic change within multiple organizations that leads to better outcomes for low-income individuals.”

Organizational Mission: The City of Seattle's Office of Economic Development (OED) is an executive office of City of Seattle municipal government.

OED works chiefly through partnerships with community-based organizations, community lending institutions, community colleges, individual businesses, and industry associations and business organizations to create a robust economy and broadly shared prosperity.

Interest in Sector Work: The City of Seattle recognizes the need to dramatically improve educational outcomes so that all Seattle residents can achieve career success and participate in growing the city’s economy. From this recognition, the Office of Economic Development has partnered with the Seattle Community College District to launch the Pathways to Careers Initiative to increase educational attainment through preparing skilled workers in targeted industry sectors that have labor market value. This Initiative aims to create a citywide coalition that leverages community resources toward the goal of significantly increasing credential completion by low-income or low-skilled workers preparing for targeted high-demand jobs in Healthcare, Business Technology, Trade/Logistics and Manufacturing/Industrial Skills.

The partners determined that a sector approach to systems reform provided a focus approach for reorienting colleges toward clear and intentional training pathways for students while immediately responding to the employment needs of low-skilled, low-income students and the labor market needs of high growth occupations. In selecting sectors of focus, the group considered:

  • Clusters that have a regional competitive advantage.
  • Clusters that are demonstrating employment growth including employment demand from retirements.
  • Clusters that have middle wage occupations and potential career ladders from entry level positions to higher skill positions.
  • Program clusters with the ability to provide a career ladder or series of stackable credentials.
  • Clusters where partners in the program are already doing foundational work, but with an ongoing need to close the training gap. In each of these four sectors, we are working to identify the program/training enhancements necessary to close the skills gap.

Throughout a student’s pathway from applying for college to completion of a degree or certificate, there are many ‘transition points’ that impact the likelihood of success. These transition points are the focus for our interventions along the student’s pathway, so they can transition from one step to the next through to completion.

As a collaborative-driven completion initiative, Pathways to Careers seeks to create system reform at all levels that will result in both scale of implementation and sustainability of success rates. To reach significant improvement in program completion for targeted sector jobs, change will need to occur at all stages along the student pathway from recruitment to program completion.