House approves Boehnke workforce bill aimed at creating education and training opportunities in retail

With a 94-2 vote on Wednesday, the Washington State House of Representatives approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Matt Boehnke that seeks to increase education and training opportunities in the retail industry.

House Bill 2019 would require the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board to work with statewide retail employer organizations to identify existing gaps and then engage with stakeholders to make recommendations on:

  • Strategies to develop additional courses, pathways, and apprenticeships to make retail certifications and credentials available for job seekers and current retail employees;
  • Strategies to build a network for students and job seekers who complete retail certification courses to connect with potential employers;
  • Options for engaging and partnering with retail employers to provide courses to incumbent frontline workers for the purpose of upskilling and promotions, including in-demand, higher paid, non-industry specific positions within the retail industry; and
  • Options for increasing training and job opportunities in the retail industry for underserved communities and previously incarcerated individuals.

The bill has received backing from business and labor groups alike. Boehnke, the ranking Republican on the House Community and Economic Development Committee, says it’s designed to grow Washington’s workforce and strengthen the retail industry, which accounts for 42 percent of the state’s revenue and is its third largest employer.

“House Bill 2019 is a product of collaboration between Republicans and Democrats, business and labor, employers and employees, and so many others who care about Washington’s workforce and the future of our retail industry,” said Boehnke, R-Kennewick. “As we continue navigating an ever-changing landscape due to the pandemic, our focus must be on creating an economic environment that’s favorable for business and job growth. House Bill 2019 would help us develop additional pathways for Washingtonians to find jobs in retail, while also developing the education and training necessary for employees to succeed and achieve greater upward mobility. I am grateful for the overwhelming support the bill has received, and look forward to seeing it continue advancing through the Legislature.”

House Bill 2019 now heads to the Senate for further consideration.


Washington State House Republican Communications