Lifetime time limits on welfare make it important for programs
to think beyond job retention and consider career advancement. Many
of the jobs that welfare recipients and other disadvantaged workers
hold do not pay a livable wage or provide health insurance and other
work-related benefits. Therefore, programs need to help former recipients
take the next step toward self-sufficiency through job advancement.
Promoting job advancement requires maintaining a relationship with
former recipients and helping them use their work experience to
move ahead in the labor market. In general, there are two means
of pursuing career advancement:
The following are some suggestions for promoting job advancement
among former welfare recipients and other disadvantaged workers.
Target jobs, sectors, and employers with opportunities for
advancement. For example, Florida's Performance-Based Incentive
Funding Program originally targeted only those jobs which paid
above a certain wage. However, they later expanded to include
positions that start at a lower wage but offer opportunities for
Ask about opportunities for advancement when developing jobs.
When gathering information from employers about available jobs,
ask also about opportunities for advancement and find out what
additional education or skills a worker might need to advance.
Use the information to match recipients with jobs, design job-advancement
activities, and help recipients plan their career paths.
Continue to work with former recipients to promote job advancement.
Facilitate career advancement by providing former participants
with job search assistance geared specifically to next-step jobs.
For example, job developers can recruit employers who are interested
in hiring individuals who have proven themselves in their first
job. Job fairs can provide opportunities for former recipients
to network with business representatives and learn about advancement
opportunities. Make sure these activities are held at times that
are convenient for working individuals.
Offer education and training for career advancement. Think
about education and training not only as a pre-employment activity,
but also a career advancement strategy. Consider giving priority
for participation in these activities to former welfare recipients
and other disadvantaged workers who have been employed for six
months or a year.
Partner with employers to provide training geared to job advancement.
Where possible, partner with employers to expand training
they already provide or add training in skills needed for job
- The Washington State Incumbent Worker Training Demonstration
plans to use existing customized training resources to assist
firms that hire welfare recipients (and other low-wage workers)
in upgrading employee skills. The training will be provided
through the local community and technical college system, and
costs will be shared.
Make it easy for working parents to participate in education
and training. Recognize how difficult it is for single parents
to combine work and school. Providing financial support for tuition
and other costs and expanding access to support services - including
child care assistance - to disadvantaged workers can make it possible
for them to continue their education and training. In addition,
make sure that programs are accessible to working individuals
with evening and/or weekend hours and convenient locations.
Market career-ladder opportunities as a benefit to both employers
and job seekers. The prospect of job-advancement services
can encourage welfare recipients and other disadvantaged workers
to participate in your program and to take entry-level positions.
The same services will also help businesses by providing a better
trained, more productive, and more loyal workforce.