West Virginia Workforce Innovation Award Nomination: Empowered Employment

Contact Information of Individual Submitting Nomination

Nominator: Mandie Lett

Email Address: Mandie.j.lett@wv.gov

Agency Name: WorkForce West Virginia (WFWV)


Empowered Employment

West Virginia (WV) has multiple characteristics that impact the available labor pool for employers located in the state. The following are examples of barriers that limit the ability to find even temporary or part time employment which in turn, serves as a deterrent to individuals seeking or finding long term employment and/or developing a career path:

  • WV has a low labor participation rate of 53.3%
  • Poverty and lower education levels serve as barriers to employment
  • Rural nature of the majority of the state hinders employment opportunities
  • Drug/opioid use and related criminal charges/incarceration history
  • Indirect impact of drug/opioid use or incarceration of family member(s)
  • Targeted population with limited or no work experience
  • Targeted population with “job hopping” work history indicating challenges with retaining employment

To assist in overcoming these barriers, WorkForce West Virginia (WFWV) has initiated the Empowered Employment Pilot Program. This pilot program is designed to assist individuals in obtaining a time-limited work experience that is wage-paid, subsidized up to 100%, and in the public, private, or non-profit sectors.

These jobs are designed to enable an individual to establish a work history, demonstrate work success in an employee-employer relationship, and develop the skills that lead to unsubsidized employment. Empowered Employment Job activities must be combined with comprehensive career and supportive services provided prior to, or concurrently with, the Empowered Employment Job activity. WFWV has offered funding to each Local Workforce Development Board (LWDB) in WV to operate Empowered Employment activities in their local area. In the event LWDB chooses not to operate an Empowered Employment program in their region, WFWV has reserved the option to identify a community organization in that area to operate the Empowered Employment program.

The goal of this Empowered Employment program is to place individuals into work experience opportunities which allows the participant to develop work skills. In addition, support services provided by WorkForce West Virginia, partner, community organizations, the participant will have the resources to identify solutions to other potential barriers to employment, such as financial stability, dependable transportation, and childcare.


Statement of results, accomplishments, impacts and any other appropriate information that demonstrates why the nominee's efforts were an exceptional contribution.

The goal of this pilot program is to place individuals into work experience opportunities, allowing the participant to develop work skills. The pilot program went into effect June 1, 2019. Local Workforce Development Boards are in the process of submitting proposals/requests.


Other significant contributions 

At this time, we have not faced any challenges.


Examples of work 

WIOA_Policy_01-19_Empowered_Employment_6_1_2019.pdf (464.5KB)
Letter of Approval for NASWA 7.19.2019.pdf (454.3KB)