Moment in History: Department of Workforce Services Opens for Business

On March 21, 1997, Gov. Mike Leavitt signed Senate Bill 166 into law. The law worked to consolidate and integrate all employment-related functions into one department. Some 1,900 employees and several preexisting agencies including the Office of Child Care, the Turning Point Program, the Office of Family Support, and the Office of Job Training merged under the Utah Department of Workforce Services (DWS) umbrella. Leavitt called the DWS an “undertaking unequal to any in Utah state government history,” and then-UPEA Executive Director Nancy Sechrest credited employees for the smooth transition to the new department.

For more than 23 years, the department has provided Utah residents with important services, following its mission statement to “provide quality, accessible, and comprehensive employment-related and supportive services responsive to the needs of employers, job seekers, and the community.” DWS employees have played a crucial role in mitigating the full impact of the pandemic as unemployment rates have soared.

Thank you to all of our DWS members for the tremendous work you do for our communities!