Connecting Low-Income Families to Good Jobs in Promising Fields

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Publication Date
April 8, 2016

Ed note: This post originally appeared in the ACF Family Room Blog. View the original post here.

An important goal of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program is to promote and support work readiness and employment in low-income families. There are a lot of possible employment and training options for individuals trying to support their families. But which jobs are better for lifting a family out of poverty? Which occupational fields are growing and need workers? How do caseworkers counseling and coaching families know where to start?

To help TANF administrators and practitioners working with low-income families navigate the world of employment resources and information, we launched the Employment Sector Analysis for TANF Recipients and Other Low-Income Families project. We scanned the field for resources practitioners may find useful, explain how to use labor market information (LMI), and how to find out which occupational sectors of the labor market are growing.

Our new Resource Guide features research studies, technical assistance resources, client assessments, and data sets in three areas:

  • Career exploration and assessment
  • Career pathways and sector strategies
  • Labor market information

The career exploration and assessment tools can be helpful for frontline staff working with clients to gather information about their skills and interests to help improve the match between clients and available jobs and training and education programs. The resources on career pathways and sector strategies can help TANF agencies build career pathways approaches and sector-based strategies. LMI can help TANF administrators and frontline staff identify available jobs with growth potential and family supporting wages.

LMI can be especially useful to caseworkers looking for good jobs for their TANF clients by providing information about wages; unemployment levels; and the education, training, and credential requirements of various occupations. There is a lot of potential for LMI to be helpful to TANF agencies for serving their clients, especially as they aim to increase engagement with state workforce agencies, but it is important to know where to start.

Our new report provides TANF practitioners with basic information about LMI — including what LMI is, its uses, and key differences between types of LMI — to help practitioners identify opportunities in which LMI can support their work and be useful to TANF clients. Our report also aims to create a common language between TANF practitioners and staff in state departments of labor.

Finally, we examined which labor market sectors are growing in occupations that offer an entry-level job for someone completing a relatively short-term training. Our new collection of promising occupations for each state is organized into ten appendices, one for each of the ACF Regions.

We hope everyone out there finds these resources helpful.

Nicole Constance, Social Science Research Analyst, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation