1997 — Beginning of a New Department

20th Anniversary of the Utah Department of Workforce Services

1997 — BEGINNING OF A NEW DEPARTMENT
It was no easy feat for Utah to become the first state to consolidate employment and welfare programs. With the new Utah Department of Workforce Services, customers could now easily access a wide array of services at any of the “one-stop” employment centers statewide. 


BY THE NUMBERS:

5 agencies and 36 programs (employment, job training and public assistance) combined into 1 department on July 1, 1997.

The Workforce Development Task Force, chaired by Lt. Governor Olene Walker, worked tirelessly to create an innovative model for Utah that ultimately became a model for the rest of the country. 
On March 1, 1997, Governor Mike Leavitt signed Senate Bill 166 to officially create the Utah Department of Workforce Services — the beginning of a department dedicated to providing employment solutions for Utah citizens.
Bob Gross was named first executive director of the department. He was recruited by Governor Leavitt to spearhead the creation of the department.
Greg Gardner, Bob Gross, Pat Swenson, and Helen Thatcher on their trip to Washington DC to share one-stop and innovation in workforce services with federal partners.

Workforce Services is launched with a press conference held at new Taylorsville Employment Center. Others open across the state including Richfield and Moab.
First Workforce Services newsletter.




Training schedule example for employees learning where they fit into the department.
list of 1997 appointed positions

KEY MILESTONES:
  • Centralization of all Unemployment Insurance claims services into a state-of-the-art call center, saving millions of dollars annually 
  • Five regions are established: North, Central, Mountainland, Eastern and Western
  • Vernal Employment Center holds first in a series of open houses
  • Federal welfare reform and Family Employment Program are implemented
  • Official website is up and running
  • Employment Center Design Team recommends strategic direction for statewide center operation and franchise approach
1998 —ELIGIBILITY SERVICE CENTER PILOT SITE OPENS