Involving Businesses in Welfare to Work Efforts
Welfare to Work programs should take advantage of the many opportunities
for business involvement in job-readiness, education, and training
activities. The following list offers some possible roles for businesses
in these efforts.
Curriculum development. Once skill needs are identified,
business partners can help in the design of curricula to make sure
they adequately teach those skills. Several programs have developed
customized training to meet the specific needs of an employer, or
group of employers, with significant hiring needs.
Contributions of equipment. Training on equipment
comparable to that in the workplace will help welfare recipients
and other disadvantaged job seekers better compete for jobs, pass
proficiency tests, and adjust to the work environment. Asking business
partners to donate useful equipment can reduce program costs and
provide employers with another way to become involved.
Instruction. Ask business partners to donate staff
time for training, or hire staff with private-sector experience.
They can bring valuable knowledge of workplace conditions, standards,
and practices. In addition, their connections with local industry
can assist in job placement efforts.
Program Involvement. There are several options
for program involvement. Business partners can:
- speak to welfare recipients and other disadvantaged job seekers
in pre-employment activities, from program orientations through
completion of training;
- practice mock interviews with participants;
- offer suggestions for job search strategies in their fields;
- share information about:
- the types of jobs they have available;
- what they look for in job applicants;
- what they expect from employees; and
- their own career experiences.
Worksite tours. Tours of worksites can expose
welfare recipients and other disadvantaged job seekers to different
work environments. Tours can also motivate and better prepare them
for adjustment to a new job.
Hiring commitments. When possible, ask employers
to commit to hiring program graduates. If employers have helped
design the program, including standards for successful completion,
they should be confident enough in graduates to make such a commitment.
For example, in Memphis, Tennessee, local hospitals committed to
hiring graduates of the UT HEALTHWORKS program, which prepares welfare
recipients for jobs in the health care field.
Cost-sharing. It may be appropriate to share the
costs of job preparation activities, especially if the curriculum
is jointly developed and the businesses will be hiring graduates.
On-site training. It may not be necessary to duplicate
job training that is already being conducted by businesses. Build
links to refer participants, prescreen candidates, or share costs
for on-site training.
In a Massachusetts program called Employer Saves, employers who
hire at least three welfare recipients at wages of at least $7 per
hour are reimbursed for the cost of in-house training for up to
$600 for one month.