Worker Retraining

Worker Retraining is a state-funded program designed to help dislocated workers update their job skills and return to employment.

Illustration of a person searching for opportunities with a telescope
  • Potential funding for school-related expenses, including:
    • tuition
    • course fees
    • textbooks
  • Assistance with Employment Security and gaining permission to attend school while collecting unemployment benefits
  • Priority enrollment
  • Education planning to help you efficiently complete your program of study
  • Help navigating college processes and services
  • Referrals to community and college resources
  • Liaison to Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), WIOA, and other agencies
    • TAA and WIOA students: if you need information for your Training Research packet, please contact Worker Retraining advisor Joy Prosise at for assistance.

You may be eligible for the Worker Retraining program if:

  • You are interested in an approved degree or certificate program
  • You are in one of the following categories:
    • receiving or eligible for unemployment benefits or have received a warn/layoff notice
    • exhausted unemployment benefits within the past 48 months and not returned to work
    • unemployed or under-employed veteran discharged within the past 48 months
    • active duty military with separation orders
    • displaced homemaker: unemployed or under-employed and formerly dependent on a family member’s income, but no longer supported by that income due to divorce, death, or permanent disability of the main wage-earner within the past 48 months
    • formerly self-employed but now unemployed due to economic changes in your community

Attending School May Affect UI Benefits

When you’re receiving unemployment insurance benefits (UI), Employment Security (ESD) is paying you to look for work and be available to accept work. ESD considers school a conflict with availability, so you must request approval for your program and show why you need to upgrade your skills or change occupations. This is done through the CAT/TB application (see definition below). Worker Retraining provides assistance with this process and CAT/TB workshops are available.

Possible Permissions from ESD:

• Student Eligibility – does not change your requirements but allows you to go school as long as you continue your required job-search-related activities and do not turn down employment. Online application (in ESD eServices) is completed after you report starting training on your weekly UI claim.
• Commissioner Approved Training (CAT) – waives ESD’s job search and work availability requirement while you attend a full-time professional/technical program (job skill related).
• Training Benefits (TB) – waives the job search/availability requirement and gives an extension of unemployment payments while in your approved training program (max of 26 additional weeks). TB does not pay for school costs/tuition. Application deadlines may apply.

What ESD applications are required?

  • Approval for Student Eligibility is mandatory if you are receiving UI benefits and attending school, even if attendance is part-time and the courses are online or in the evenings.
  • CAT and TB applications are optional, but unless ESD waives the requirement you’ll need to continue to be available for work. If you turn down employment without having CAT or TB approval, ESD could require repayment of UI benefits paid during your training.

How do I apply to CAT/TB?

  • CAT/TB Workshop offered online.
  • After you attend the workshop, you will be able to submit your completed CAT/TB application for review.

What is an ESD Progress Report?

If approved for CAT, Employment Security will ask for progress reports approximately every six weeks to see how you are doing in school.

What do I do with my ESD Progress Reports?

During the quarter, ask one of your instructors to sign it, verifying attendance and satisfactory progress. Make a copy for your files, and fax and/or mail it to the address specified on the progress report before the deadline. If in-between quarters and an instructor is not available, contact the Workforce Education office; staff can check your grades and sign the form. You will then copy, and fax or mail as above.

Does CAT/TB pay my tuition?

No. CAT is only approval to go to school and to suspend your job search. TB is only an extension of UI benefits. Tuition is paid through other sources such as Worker Retraining, financial aid grants, WIOA, scholarships, etc., depending on eligibility.

Are Worker Retraining and the Dislocated Worker Program the same?

No. The Worker Retraining Program is a state funded program and the Dislocated Worker Program is a federal program. The eligibility criteria and application process are different.

What programs does Worker Retraining fund?

State-funded, credit programs or classes that lead towards improved employment opportunities. Visit our Approved Programs page to see a list.

Is there a deadline to apply for Worker Retraining?

It depends; some Worker Retraining eligibility criteria has associated time limits. Also, college classes can fill up quickly, so we encourage you to apply as early as possible before the quarter you want to attend.

Do I have to apply for financial aid?

Yes, all Worker Retraining students must apply for financial aid, even if you have a prior degree or other reason to think you won’t qualify.

How do I apply?

Apply online! We will review your eligibility for all of BC’s Workforce Education programs.

If you have questions before applying, please contact us at 425-564-4054 or

Last Updated March 29, 2024