Fixing to Change: A Best Practices Assessment of One-Stop Job Centers Working With Welfare Recipients. Managing Career Expectations


It is a delicate balance that One-Stop staff must strike between motivating TANF recipients toward job search and long-term employment goals while at the same time giving them a realistic appreciation of what to expect in their first job. Typically, this process begins with some form of motivational exercises designed to help participants set some long term goals for themselves -- to articulate what it is they want to achieve for themselves and their families. The second step is to help participants begin to understand what it might take to achieve these goals.

As part of this second step, One-Stop staff will typically use local labor market information to help develop realistic expectations about current employment opportunities and career ladders. This process also helps acquaint participants with the self-service resources available through the One-Stop, giving them assistance in learning to use a variety of computer and written resource materials. Touch screen systems, such as that used in Kenosha, are particularly useful in helping even the most computer-phobic participants gain access to electronic data systems. Because these systems use recognizable maps, visual graphics, and immediately useful information, they are particularly effective in drawing participants into the exploration of the local labor market. With this experience as a base, introducing participants to America's Job Bank and other resources via the Internet is only a few steps away.

As noted in Chapter 3, the on-going education and training linkage between the first job and the desired career track may be the weakest part of most One-Stop systems for TANF recipients. Focus groups with former participants made it clear that once they found their first job, the difficulties of juggling family and work life made it difficult to pursue their initial goals without continued support and assistance. Nonetheless, this process opens up a whole new world of resources for these clients as they struggle with their careers and future employment challenges. Just the process of learning to use these tools frequently provides a boost in self-confidence as job seekers gain a greater sense of control in understanding the labor market that they are trying to enter.