Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council to Launch Mobile WorkSource Unit With Prosperity 10,000 Support From East Cascades Works

Beginning this spring, job seekers, students, and workers throughout Central Oregon can expect WorkSource Oregon services to come to them, thanks to the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council’s new mobile unit. This one-of-a-kind workforce center is made possible through support from Future Ready Oregon. Specifically, a 2022 Workforce Ready Grant from the HECC funded the purchase of the van, and Prosperity 10,000 support from East Cascades Works—the region’s local workforce board—is funding the planning, implementation, and hiring of a mobile employment counselor.

Why Go Mobile?

The Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC) serves Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson Counties. That’s about 600 miles of open road. The region’s WorkSource Oregon centers in Bend and Redmond can be challenging for residents in the surrounding communities to visit. “In some cases it can be a 60-70 mile round-trip to get to these centers,” says COIC Adult Programs Manager Dana Dunlap. “For someone with a low income—or no income, or who is waiting for unemployment benefits—that is a significant expense.”

Services to be Offered

To make WorkSource services more accessible, COIC has equipped a Sprinter van with six workstations, computers, and internet access. “The purpose of this van,” Dunlap explains, “is to provide job seekers of any age who live in our rural and frontier communities with the same WorkSource resources that we provide in our comprehensive [brick and mortar] centers.”

To do that, COIC will hire a dedicated mobile employment counselor to help job seekers create resumes, complete job applications, apply for jobs online, and even connect with local employers. The counselor may also provide employment coaching and career assessments, and help job seekers explore training opportunities for a new career.

Anticipated Times and Locations

Beginning this spring, the Mobile WorkSource Unit will first launch services in La Pine, adding additional communities, such as Madras, Prineville, and Warm Springs, through the summer months. The unit will also be used for special events, such as youth events, job fairs, and recruitment activities, as well as for rapid responses—by, for instance, providing support to laid-off workers.

Collaborations and Community Partnerships

Designing the mobile unit highlighted the importance of partnering with community members and engaging in collaborative brainstorming to ensure the van is efficient, reliable, and can be used to serve a maximum number of community members. This process began with Dunlap’s own team. She credits the COIC staff with proposing the idea for a mobile unit and coming up with important features—adding, for example, an awning and outdoor workstations to increase capacity and make the unit’s services more accessible.

Dunlap also invited WorkSource partners to give feedback on the van wrap, which reflects key regional industries—construction and healthcare—along with the COIC youth forestry program.

As COIC prepares for this first year of service, they will establish a community of practice so they can involve community partners in actively evaluating and enhancing their mobile services.

East Cascades Works continues to play a pivotal role in the van’s roll-out. In addition to encouraging COIC to pursue the project and providing feedback along the way, the local workforce board is supporting the hiring and training of the mobile employment counselor through Future Ready Oregon Prosperity 10,000 funds. “I am so grateful for COIC’s innovative approach to ensure all Central Oregonians have access to the robust workforce services available through WorkSource Oregon,” says Heather Ficht, East Cascades Works’ executive director. She further states, “This is a necessary expansion of services in our vast and rural region. It is a very promising approach that may become more common statewide.”