DWS Press Release
June 29, 2017

Workforce Services honors the late Governor Olene S. Walker at 20th anniversary event

SALT LAKE CITY (June 29, 2017)— Marking the 20th anniversary of the Utah Department of Workforce Services today, Governor Gary R. Herbert renamed the agency’s downtown administration office the Olene S. Walker Building in recognition of her contributions to the formation of the department.

“Governor Walker was a visionary leader who left behind an indelible legacy of public service. The dedicated individuals employed at Utah’s Department of Workforce Services today continue to exemplify that strong desire to provide exceptional service to Utahns,” said Governor Herbert. “The innovative organizational structure Governor Walker envisioned for Workforce Services during her time is now a proven standard, which other states strive to emulate.”

Chairing the Workforce Development Task Force, then Lt. Governor Walker helped to create an innovative system for Utah that ultimately became a model for the rest of the country. The Department of Workforce Services was officially created on July 1, 1997, after Governor Michael O. Leavitt signed Senate Bill 166 — the first state to consolidate employment and public assistance programs into one department. With the formation of this new department in 1997, patrons could now easily access a wide array of services at any of the “one-stop” employment centers statewide.

“We had nearly 30 different programs in various departments in state government and it just cried out for a better solution,” said Governor Leavitt. “Olene came to me and said we don’t need a new program, we need to knit this into a new department and call it the Department of Workforce Services.”

With the recent passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Utah has been highlighted and recognized as a national leader in seamlessly integrating critical services. With several states finding challenges to align all the required programs, Utah was already in position to implement the act because the majority of the programs were already aligned as part of the department’s creation 20 years ago.

“It is because of the sound foundation laid down by Governor Walker that this department is able to assist as many people as we do as effectively as we do,” said Jon Pierpont, executive director of Workforce Services. “We take seriously our responsibility to administer taxpayer dollars in a way that maximizes impact for the good of our state. With every new person who finds economic stability comes a stronger Utah.”

The department also unveiled a new logo today, featuring a prominent “W” for “workforce” and symbolism of open doors and stairs moving upward, representing how the department helps customers achieve their goals.

“Recognizing the transformation that has taken place in the past 20 years, it’s time for Workforce Services to embrace a new look and a new logo to represent the work we do for all Utahns,” said Pierpont.

In its 20-year history, Workforce Services has served 3.8 million job seekers at the more than 60 employment and service centers statewide, in addition to the robust online resources at jobs.utah.gov. Providing resources and support to job seekers, employers, veterans, refugees, individuals experiencing homelessness, individuals with disabilities, parents and many others, Workforce Services opens doors for its patrons to reach their goals and move upward in their lives. For more information, visit jobs.utah.gov/20years.