Fresh Ideas

Innovation is a key strategy for Northwest Oregon Works.  We pursue promising practices and programs that can be scaled up, develop strategic partnerships in support of  workforce initiatives and we lead efforts that result in employment and career advancement.

Leaders in Regional Collaboration

Seeing an opportunity for better regional collaboration, Northwest Oregon Works and Willamette Workforce Partnership developed a formal regional partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in order to strengthen the alignment of workforce programs among partners and allow for regional planning.

The Northwest Oregon area includes Lincoln and Benton Counties and Willamette includes Linn County–three counties that have historically been served together and were split among two workforce areas in 2014. These three counties share Linn-Benton Community College, the Community Action Agency (Community Services Consortium), Oregon Department of Human Services District Four, the Housing Authority, as well as shared business and industry partners, economic development jurisdictions and labor shed.

Paving the way for innovative partnership, the MOU was established to:

  • Coordinate resources to prevent duplication of effort and/or investment.
  • Align the WorkSource Oregon system in the Linn-Benton-Lincoln communities to create a seamless customer experience.
  • Define ways to support common businesses and co-facilitate shared industry sector partners.
  • Increase and maximize access to workforce services for individuals in the three-county area.
  • Pursue regional grant opportunities that can benefit both local areas.
  • Develop customer-friendly referral processes to services that are applicable to partner’s programs.

Pioneering Behavioral Health Apprenticeship in Oregon

NOW has led the development of the first apprenticeship-based behavioral health career pathway in Oregon. The Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC) was formed in 2021 with funds from a Healthy Oregon Workforce Training Opportunity (HOWTO) Grant from the Oregon Health Authority. NOW implemented the program to address the workforce shortages in allied and behavioral health in the Northwest Oregon workforce area, while concurrently promoting increased equity and diversity in the healthcare workforce by recruiting and training members of the Latinx and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

The behavioral health apprenticeship program is comprised of three levels. The first level results in: certified Mental Health Counselors, Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselors I (CADC I), Qualified Mental Health Associates (QMHA), Peer Support Specialists (PSS), Community Health Workers (CHW). The second encompasses mid-level positions requiring Associates or Bachelors degrees such as: Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselors (CADCs), mental health Case Managers, and other Qualified Mental Health Associates (QMHAs). The program also includes scholarships for a third level of training to clinicians completing Masters-level credentials as: Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs), Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs), or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs).

In September 2021, NOW and its regional partner Willamette Workforce Partnership (serving Linn, Marion, Polk and Yamhill Counties), were awarded a State Apprenticeship Expansion, Equity and Innovation (SAEEI) Grant from the Higher Education Coordinating Commission to expand the geographic scope of the Oregon Behavioral Health JATC, formed in April 2021, to include the counties served by WWP (Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill) and increase the number of employers to be served/apprentices enrolled in Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln and Tillamook counties as part of the Oregon Behavioral Health JATC.

For more information on the Behavioral Health Apprenticeship Program contact Adrienne Peters at