This project is a holistic career development program for workers who have been out of the workforce for significant periods of time due to critical changes in personal situations. At the heart of this project is a 7-component "Career Roadtrip," which includes multiple learning platforms, methodologies, tools, and support mechanisms for their career decision-making processes. The program's success depends upon the solid partnership support and engagement within the community that is hosting it.
The WE-career project's main objectives are to empower workers to be independent and (a) develop their professional identities, (b) to engage professionally in their chosen entry field, (c) to create and activate a S.M.A.R.T. career plan for continued sustained development, and (d) to build an on-going resilient professional network of support.
Pilot Project for Los Angeles, California.
Community Challenges: Los Angeles
According to CBS Los Angeles (2019): California is ranked as the second worst state in jobless rates for women, despite a national economy that has seen the lowest unemployment rate for women since 1950 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1948-2019). Nearly a third of all households with children in Los Angeles county are led by single women (County Health Rankings, 2017), almost 500,000 households in Los Angeles county with only one working provider in 2019 (Suburban Stats). In the greater los Angeles area, the situation is severe, with over 119,000 women aged 21 - 60 without employment in 2019. That translates to an approximate 4.1% unemployment rate for women over 20 who also only have a 57% employment participation rate in the workforce (as compared to men who have a 72.8% participation rate). For context, the national average for unemployment is 3.6% and the national employment rate for women is 3.8%. The national employment participation rate for both men and women is 62.8%. Los Angeles has low participation rates for women and more unemployment in an area where it is most expensive to live.
A significant number of these workers have left the workforce for personal reasons, injuries or long-term health changes, job loss, childbirth, deployments, and drastic changes in the job market. Research suggests that many workers intending to return to jobs after an absence experience unique and sustantial challenges when looking for new employment. Due to the obstacles they face in re-negotiating their salary, and the stigma of having a significant gap in their employment history, these workers are often susceptible to necessity entrepreneurship, unemployment, underemployment, and mis-employment - perhaps even accompanied by impact results such as employment abuse, homelessness and poverty.
This creates a lack of self-esteem and anxiety, perpetuating the cycle of disempowerment. Personal and professional relationships suffer, as these workers become frustrated with their perceived inability to contribute meaninfully to the economy and society as a whole. As a result, they are also targeted by predatory industries such as pyramid sales force recruitment and the self-improvement market. The Chicago Tribune (2019) reports that of the 18.6 million Americans that are involved in marketing company direct sales, 74% of them are women. Becoming involved in these industries often requires substantial financial commitments, placing one significant group of workers we seek to assist at greater risk for accumulating debt. In the same article, it is reported that at least 99 out of 100 participants involved in direct sales marketing companies lose money, leaving them thousands of dollars in debt rather than earning greater financial freedom.
Our challenge is to change all of this for one group of workers!
The Seven Components of our Program:
- Roadmap: Preparation Session
- Roadtrip: Interactive Workshops
- Compass: Professional 1x1 coaching
- Orientation: Online & Guided Self-Development
- Pitstops: Networking Events, Interviewing Appointments, Job/School Recruiting Events
- Maintenance: Cohort Connection
- Destinations: Celebrations
Each component has a measurable objective, specific outcome being worked toward, is progressive to build totality of program impact, and provides opportunity for participants to practice and play with what they generate for their career crafting at each level. Handouts, platforms, resource access, and materials are all provided to participants. An intake registration form and and outtake feedback form are completed by participants. Follow-up communication and tracking is also done throughout the first year after the program for the purpose of providing additional support where needed to the participants. Metrics are compiled and analyzed to improve and to scale-up the pilot program into a sustainable program that empowers multiple groups of women each year in the same Los Angeles area community.
The Anticipated Results:
- 25 recipients will participate in the pilot project; based on current commitments from our partners
- 95% of participants will feel better prepared for re-entry into the workforce
- 95% of participants will perceive fewer barriers and be more resilient in obtaining their career objectives and reentering the workforce
- 95% of participants will behave in a more empowered way to reach their career objectives by the services provided in the program
- 50% of participants who find employment will be paid above the minimum wage or will have negotiated a higher salary prior to being hired
- 50% of participants will have found meaningful employment within 3 months after the workshop
- 70% of participants will have found meaningful employment within 6 months after the workshop
By strengthening and empower these workers with their own doable career plans, we intend to help them avoid common career pitfalls that arise from immediate panic, anxiety for the future, the need for greater flexibility, or out of situational desperation. Some of those pitfalls may include: Settling for unmeaningful jobs; Grabbing insufficient and non-consistent employment that cannot support their own independence; Signing up for multi-leveled marketing schemes that are masked as business opportunities (but cost money instead); Being trapped in lower-end job tiers that carry no growth plans or security for the future; or Obtaining unnegotiated underpaid positions that devalues them and their work. A team of partners, supporters, and providers will ensure that the recipients will become more connected professionally, be more in charge of their own careers, and be less dependent upon others to get where they want their careers to go.