WSU Extension’s Remote Work Certificate opens world of work opportunities

Two monitors set up on a wooden desk in someone's at-home, remote work office. Image on the webcam shows someone preparing for an online meeting.
A participant attends an online meeting during WSU Extension’s Remote Work Certificate training.

Benefitting employers and those seeking employment, the Remote Work Certificate offered through Washington State University Extension is boosting Washington’s workforce by teaching digital literacy skills.

Washington state residents can develop their remote working skills through a roster of monthly Extension workshops that begin in August and continue through November of this year.

Partners in success

Close partnerships with Washington state chambers of commerce, business nonprofits, and county leaders, as well as research and testing by WSU Extension faculty and staff, helped make the launch a success in 2021.

Mike Gaffney, assistant director of WSU Extension, points to an early partnership with the Association of Washington Business Institute, the nonprofit arm of the Association of Washington Business, as instrumental in the development of the program, which began as a regional pilot based on a Utah State University Extension certification.

Mike Gaffney, assistant director of Washington State University Extension.

“The Institute knew that WSU Extension had been involved in workforce development via our decadeslong work with digital initiatives,” he said. “They were interested in partnering with us to explore Utah State’s remote work certification, then potentially offer a Washington-focused version.”

After an experimental trial run of Utah’s program that involved 14 testers — five from Extension, five from the Association of Washington Business, and four from a large, regional health care provider — it was determined that the program would fit Washington state’s needs.

“We adopted Utah’s program, but we’ve made some changes to accommodate the regional needs of the populations we work with,” said Gaffney.

“If a participant doesn’t know how to use the technology or doesn’t have access to the appropriate technology, we can connect them to crucial resources offered via support from partner organizations,” he added.

Those partners include WorkSource, Avista Utilities, People for People, and Spokane Teachers Credit Union, which provide support through scholarships or post-course employment resources. Pierce County also provided scholarships for Pierce and Thurston County residents for the May and June 2023 courses.

Gaffney cites Extension’s long-term work mapping access to statewide, free broadband as another example of support for participants.

“WSU Extension’s initiative to connect people with free broadband access points dovetailed really well with the Remote Work Certificate offering,” he said.

Growing interest and tangible results

Christina Sanders
Christina Sanders, director of the WSU Division of Governmental Studies and Services.

Christina Sanders, director of the WSU Division of Governmental Studies and Services, has worked on the Remote Work Certificate project since its inception.

“People started hearing about this certification, and we were getting more and more interest,” she said. “Initially, we were going to offer this program on a county-by-county basis, but, due to demand, we were able to make this a statewide offering.”

Nearly 100 certificates have been awarded to participants so far.

Kayla Wells-Yoakum is an associate professor in Stevens County and the Remote Work Certificate program coordinator with WSU Extension. Participants have told her how much more hopeful and prepared they feel after completing the certification.

“I was excited to hear that after the May course, a participant was offered a remote job within three days,” she said. “She was able to articulate to the interviewers the skills she had developed. A separate May certificate awardee is in the process of interviewing for a position.”

Kayla Wells-Yoakum headshot.
Kayla Wells-Yoakum, associate professor in Stevens County and the Remote Work Certificate program coordinator with Washington State University Extension.

“It’s really exciting to see the program’s tangible impacts,” she added.

Further resources

More information about the Remote Work Certificate program’s launch and development is available through CAHNRS News, or visit WSU Extension’s Remote Work Certificate website to learn more.

Media contacts

Mike Gaffney, phone: 509-335-4611, email:

Christina Sanders, phone: 509-335-4811, email:

Kayla Wells-Yoakum, phone: 509-422-7248, email: