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President’s Message: Fall 2015

By Heidi Hartmann

It has been a great year for IWPR. Among many report releases, strong press coverage, and great exposure in the popular media, I want to particularly share with you my excitement at the new era that has begun in the struggle to attain paid parental leave in the United States. From President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech to the 2016 presidential candidates from both parties, the call for paid parental leave has come to the fore. While one candidate attacked the need for any legislation guaranteeing such policies (claiming that employers that find it important to their business will do it on their own), many candidates have supported the call for paid parental leave policy at the federal level, although most have not yet issued detailed plans. Never before has paid family leave been addressed so prominently in these venues.

I am very proud to say that IWPR’s dogged work since the mid-1990s to present paid family leave as a realistic option for the United States is finally paying off. As noted in Jeff Hayes’ opening article in this newsletter, IWPR first highlighted the use of state Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) programs—which already covered a woman’s pregnancy, delivery, and recovery—as vehicles for paid family care leave in a paper presented in 1995 at the annual meetings of the American Economic Association. We followed that up with a fact sheet in 1996 describing the five existing state TDI programs. California was in fact the first of these states to adopt paid family care leave, built upon their TDI program, in 2002; IWPR staff members had traveled to Sacramento to present findings on more than one occasion. More recently, New Jersey in 2008 and Rhode Island in 2013 have joined California in expanding their TDI programs to provide paid benefits for family care leave, typically four to six weeks and all paid for by workers through payroll tax deduction.

Currently, the District of Columbia is one of several local and state jurisdictions that is actively exploring how to establish a new paid leave program without a TDI system to build upon. The District won one of four competitive grants offered by the Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, to enable research on feasibility, and the District contracted with IWPR for assistance with its analysis. This year, the Women’s Bureau awarded eight grants and IWPR is expecting to work with four of the winning jurisdictions.

The Women’s Bureau grants seemed to have started an avalanche as several other states are spending their own funds on feasibility studies for paid family leave. For sure, an avalanche began in the tech industry as firms competed with one another to offer family leave. As reported by Elle, Netflix started it by offering up to one year paid leave; Microsoft then offered 12 paid weeks for family care, in addition to 8 for maternity disability. Adobe Systems then announced an expansion of maternity leave from 17 to 26 weeks and a doubling of fathers’ time off from 2 weeks to 4 weeks. Amazon responded to all this with 20 weeks off for pregnancy including 4 weeks prepartum and up to 6 weeks off for fathers. Finally, Spotify now gives up to 6 month off with pay anytime from 2 months before birth to a child’s third birthday. Of course, firms with highly skilled talent are more likely to make such an investment, but Facebook also requires its contracting firms (providing services such as food and cleaning among other services) to provide parental leave or a lump sum of $4,000 in lieu of paid leave. Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, is currently taking a two month leave after the birth of his family’s first child. Policies and practices such as these dramatically change the climate in favor of change at a national level. It is an international embarrassment that 183 countries have paid parental leave and only the US—along with Papua New Guinea—does not (according to the International Labour Organization).

Should the current discussion on national security leave any room and the issue of family leave reverberate in the presidential election in 2016, change could happen much more quickly than is commonly expected. IWPR’s work will be central to the action! Stay tuned.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of December 7, 2015

Weekly Roundup of the news on women and supportive services in job training programs.

By Rachel Linn

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers. Many women in job training programs, however, face obstacles to success. Wraparound services—such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance—can help adults, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, to complete programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing. 


December 14, 2015

LaCrosse Tribune (Wisconsin): 7 Rivers Alliance to spur workforce development with grant program

At the Be Bold forum, five companies outlined a skills gap and the challenge of finding qualified workers. Sean Smith, a supply chain director at Agropur Ingredients in La Crosse, said his company wants to grow and expand but was having difficulties finding enough employees for the production lines already in service.

Whitehall is a challenging area to recruit workers and families. Because of its distance from Eau Claire and La Crosse, public transportation is an issue.

Affordable housing is also a challenge in Whitehall, as is child care, both of which are widespread concerns.

December 11, 2015

Deseret News (Salt Lake City): How do you help families still mired in the Great Recession?

Since Utah’s public assistance and workforce services agencies have not always been connected, low-income families historically had to go to separate offices for help with employment, food stamps and other services, according to Nic Dunn, spokesman for the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

But the department has created “one-stop” centers to ensure that more people know about and receive the various resources available, he said.

“Having that all under one roof where it’s one touch point is way more efficient for these people,” Dunn said. “It has been such a powerful tool to help them get back on their feet a lot more quickly.”

Still, many people don’t realize those centers provide help with nonemployment services, such as food stamps, child care, after-school programs, housing and financial assistance, according to Aguirre.

December 8, 2015

MarketPlace: Job fair encourages girls to get into trades

Construction is a booming industry. But when’s the last time you saw a female construction worker? A female plumber? Turns out, there aren’t very many. Women make up only 2.6 percent of the field. The Women Can Build Career Fair in Hayward, California is trying to address this gender imbalance.

December 7, 2015

WMAZ (Georgia): Program helps train, employ central Georgia workers

The local Director, Shaknita Davis said, “It is our job and responsibility to understand what workforce trends are, what skills are needed from local industry and employers and make sure job seekers on the other side, know what skill sets are needed and then help them acquire those skill sets in order to meet the employer need as well as their need to find employment.”

Davis went on to explain that the program strives to break down any barriers for both employers and employees. “We assist them with tuition, books, fees, licenses, child care, transportation, any type of barrier that would hinder them from being able to obtain those skills that are needed.”

December 5, 2015

The Philadelphia Tribune: YouthBuild, Starbucks initiative takes local woman from homelessness to career

Starbucks has taken the lead locally in a national effort to employ “opportunity youth” such as Williams, young people between the ages of 18 and 24, who are not in school or are unemployed. According to a report commissioned by Boston-based Opportunity Nation almost six million youth are disconnected from school and work.

Through local partnership with organizations such as YouthBuild, Starbucks has hired more than 50 opportunity youth in Philadelphia during the last two years. The company has committed to hiring 10,000 opportunity youth nationally by 2018.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of November 30, 2015

Weekly Roundup of the news on women and supportive services in job training programs.

By Rachel Linn

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers. Many women in job training programs, however, face obstacles to success. Wraparound services—such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance—can help adults, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, to complete programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing.


November 30, 2015

Campus Technology: Associates Degree or Cert in CTE Leads to Higher Earnings

People in California who earn a career technical education (CTE) degree or certificate from a community college earn more money — an average increase in income of 33 percent or 13 to 22 percent overall, respectively. Those are two findings from a research project undertaken by the Center for Poverty Research at the University of California, Davis.

The research also found that student characteristics across programs translated into different returns and outcomes. Because women “were much more likely than men to enter health programs,” the policy brief noted, “their average return was higher.” Driven by those high returns, women’s income increased 42 percent with an associate’s degree, compared to 21 percent for men. Women, however, were also more likely to enter the programs with the lowest returns, such as childcare.

 November 30, 2015

Omaha Public Radio: Partnership of Women’s Foundations Pledge $100 Million to Create Pathways to Economic Security

“We are going to be looking at job training, financial literacy, and child care initiatives. These are things that we know help women attain economic self-sufficiency, programs that really help women be able to take care of their families and their communities.”

November 20, 2015

NW Labor Press: Apprenticeship gets some long-overdue recognition

At 6.9 percent, Oregon has more than double the national rate of women in construction trades apprenticeships. According to Connie Ashbrook, executive director of OTI, registered apprenticeship programs in the Portland metropolitan area that her organization partners with have nearly 10 percent women, on average.

Charlie Johnson, business manager of Sheet Metal Workers Local 16, said journeyman sheet metal workers make $38 an hour, with “unparalleled” fringe benefits that include a pension and full medical benefits. “I don’t think there are too many opportunities outside the construction trades that offer that kind of income,” Johnson said.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of November 16, 2015

Weekly Roundup of the news on women and supportive services in job training programs.

By Rachel Linn

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers. Many women in job training programs, however, face obstacles to success. Wraparound services—such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance—can help adults, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, to complete programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing.


November 20, 2015

FW: The Magazine for Chicago Women: The Face of a Changing Industry

When one thinks of the construction field, a young woman with a blonde ponytail might not immediately come to mind. But Minnesota native Samantha Randby is an apprentice lineman with Intren. She is one of the 8.9 percent of women who are currently employed within the construction workforce.

November 19, 2015

The Fairfield Sun: Funding helps create pathways to economic security for women

Prosperity Together partners will use their respective experience and knowledge to continue funding programs that are proven effective in their communities and states. The types of programs that will be funded include job training programs that are customized to address the cultural and educational needs of low-income women in order to secure a higher-wage job in a stable work environment.

November 16, 2015

San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Why Metro wants to hire more women for construction jobs

Though Metro doesn’t actually build anything, it contracts with companies that do. Both must fulfill project labor agreements that include hiring a certain percentage of minorities and women.

Federal guidelines say each project should have 6.9 percent women. While some Metro projects are near that, others have less than 1 percent, said Miguel Cabral, Metro’s deputy executive officer of diversity and economic opportunity.

Also covered in Construction Dive: Los Angeles Metro ramps up efforts to recruit women construction workers

November 16, 2015

Birmingham Business Journal: Women’s Fund to invest $2.5M in local job training and child care

The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham will be investing $2.5 million over the next five years toward job training for women, child care and economic research.

November 13, 2015

Star Tribune: Women’s foundations pledge $100 million to bolster economic security for American women, families

In Minnesota, money will be allocated to bolster education and job training services, as well as child care, to help women secure higher-wage, stable work, officials said. Funding also will be used for research to inform best practices for policy change.

“A special focus must be placed on women of color, who are on the bottom rung of every economic indicator in Minnesota, just as they are in many states in the nation,” said Lee Roper-Batker, president and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, which will commit $15 million to the effort over the next five years.

 November 13, 2015

Naples Daily News: Women’s Foundation of Southwest Florida joins national initiative to empower disadvantaged

The foundations’ efforts will focus largely on funding job training programs that address educational needs and cultural issues to help low-income women get better jobs. It also will help fund child care programs so mothers can be in the workplace and their children can get an academic start.

November 12, 2015

Construction Dive: Are women the answer to the construction labor shortage?

However, the industry is also facing another shortage — women in the construction trades. Women represent half of the population in the U.S. but, according to a 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, women make up less than 10% of the construction industry workforce. Some groups, like the National Women’s Law Center, peg that figure at 3%, although organizations like the AGC contend their numbers include only women in the field, and not those in administrative or professional positions.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: 2015 National Apprenticeship Week Round-Up

Weekly Roundup of the news on women and supportive services in job training programs.

By Rachel Linn

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers. Many women in job training programs, however, face obstacles to success. Wraparound services—such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance—can help adults, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, to complete programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing.


November 8, 2015

Star Tribune: Progress has been slow but steady for women in construction

[Minnesotan Kimberly Brinkman’s] experiences were echoed in the recent survey by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. One common experience for almost all tradeswomen is being the only woman on the job site. When Brinkman attended the Women Build Nations Conference in Los Angeles last spring, she was brought to tears when she entered a room with over 1,000 tradeswomen. “What a powerful experience,” she said. “It is an act of courage and strength to work in an industry dominated by men,” she continued. “The stories inspired me … to change the status quo.”

November 4, 2015

Oregon Live: Oregon a national leader in recruiting women apprentices but challenges remain

A 2014 report praised Oregon as one of two states making exemplary efforts to improve diversity in the highway construction trades, notably by dedicating a portion of its federal highway funding for training and support services for women and minorities. Having the state pay for such things as child care expenses, mileage, tools and clothing makes it more likely that women can continue their apprenticeships, the report by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found.

November 4, 2015

Jobs for the Future: Expanding the Path to Apprenticeships to Women and Minority Workers

Pre-apprenticeships are a critical entry point into a training and career pathway for numerous reasons. A good program has deep community ties, and can recruit women and minorities to consider nontraditional occupations and apprenticeship programs as a real option for their future. They teach these individuals the technical skills, contextualized literacy and numeracy skills, and soft skills they need to succeed on the job or in an apprenticeship. Finally, these programs are equipped provide the case management that connects their trainees to the resources they need to overcome their transportation, housing, child care, and other barriers to work.

November 4, 2015

303 Magazine: How Denver Women are Using Cooking to Get off Welfare

However, WOW also provides a slew of advanced training courses that can act as a solution to the cliff effect since students enrolled in courses—such as those for sous chef certification—have the potential to make $35K to $40K a year with complete benefits. Though these extensive training course are not the right fit for every student, WOW does boast a hefty repertoire of ancillary services that supports students at all levels. This includes help with everything from resume writing and interview training, to cognitive behavioral therapy, in-house emergency child care and safety planning for those in domestic violence situations. Some services are even offered throughout their lifetime.

November 4, 2015

San Francisco Chronicle Op-Ed: Apprenticeships offer debt-free job training

By Sean McGarvey, President of North America’s Building Trades Unions

Rather than reinvent the wheel, policymakers should turn to a training infrastructure that’s worked for decades. For a thriving economy, we need to double the number of American apprentices.

Citizens should press their governments and community-based organizations to partner with their local building trades unions to enact robust apprenticeship readiness programs— especially ones that give communities of color, women and veterans a leg up on the ladder to the middle class.

Job Training and Support Services In-The-News: Week of November 2, 2015

Weekly Roundup of the news on women and supportive services in job training programs.

By Rachel Linn

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers. Many women in job training programs, however, face obstacles to success. Wraparound services—such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance—can help adults, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, to complete programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing.


November 3, 2015

Journal Star (Peoria, IL): ICC program looks at tech field apprenticeships as entry point for women and minorities

It’s time for women and minorities to be included in the technical revolution. That was the idea behind the Illinois Central College program Tuesday on apprenticeships for minorities and women. The program, part of a week-long celebration at ICC on the importance of apprenticeships, was attended by 120 people.“Only 7 percent of the apprentices in this country at the present time are female. There is also an underrepresentation of minorities among apprentices in our nation,” said Ali, noting that ICC sought to broaden the apprenticeship concept.

October 31, 2015

The Des Moines Register: The struggle to help people find better jobs

Marvin DeJear, director of the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, said nonprofits and government programs that work with youth have disappeared in recent decades.

The Evelyn K. Davis Center opened in 2012 to act as a clearinghouse of sorts for those seeking work. Aside from working on specific job searching skills, DeJear said, counselors spend much of their time working through personal issues such as child care and transportation.

October 24, 2015

Marietta Daily Journal (Atlanta, Georgia): Local construction training builds careers

Simmons is one of 16 trainees who graduated Friday as the inaugural class of Go Build Cobb, a free four-week construction skills training and employment course aimed at giving people a leg up into a growing industry in metro Atlanta. The program is a partnership between CobbWorks, the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia, The Collective at Cumberland Community Church and HB Next, a business management consulting company.

Simmons said she aspires to build a career for herself and encourage other women to take advantage of opportunities in construction, a traditionally male-dominated field. “I love hands-on, I love building. I love seeing the outcome of my time and my effort,” said Simmons. “If I go on site and do my best like I’ve done in this class, I mean, I can see myself really moving up.”

But for the unemployed or underemployed, attending a four-week course can be a struggle. Only half the participants have both a car and a valid license, and many cannot afford to pay for transportation in addition to going without pay for the period of training and however long it takes them to find a job afterwards.

October 19, 2015

KAJO 1270 (Oregon) RCC Awarded Grant To Help Low-Income Students Gets Jobs in Health Care

A $14.6 million federal grant awarded to Rogue Community College will benefit nearly 1,100 new low-income students in job training and education programs for health careers.

Students already enrolled in college-level programs at RCC cannot apply. A news release says applicants who qualify will be put into a lottery and selected from that pool. The grant funds will also be able to pay for child care, emergency food and housing support and transportation.

October 14, 2015

The Missouri Times: Missouri to use $15 million grant to provide job training for health care careers, Gov. Nixon announces

The JETS partnership will offer a combination of classroom learning, on-the-job training, and distance learning opportunities to improve access to the necessary skills and knowledge for these health professions.  Those currently working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or other entry level positions may be eligible for the JETS program and use the training to move to the next level in their profession.  Participants will also get support to overcome barriers to employment including child care and transportation needs.

October 10, 2015

The Tampa Tribune: Building a future for women in construction industry

The second round of seminars for Women Building Futures, a program that gives women a sneak peek at carpentry, plumbing, painting, flooring installation and construction drawings, begins this week. Once they’ve finished that program, if they decide to take advantage of an apprenticeship, women can become certified in any number of trades that could boost their income considerably — at very little cost to them.

“When the Women’s Centre started in 1977, this was one of their first programs,” said Women Building Futures program manager Luis Rodriguez, who signed up 24 women for the first set of workshops. “The idea was to help women step into roles traditionally held by male breadwinners.”

September 14, 2015

Hometown Source: Minnesota receives $5M federal grant to expand registered apprenticeship in high-growth jobs

The grant partners the Department of Economic and Employee Development (DEED) and Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) with employers to support activities including outreach and recruiting, assessments, adult basic education, wrap-around support services and on-the-job and industry recognized credential training.

As of September 2015, Minnesota reached a high mark of almost 11,000 registered apprentices; up from approximately 6,600 in 2011. Minnesota’s apprenticeship employers and the state’s construction labor unions have increased their focus on outreach and recruiting of women and minorities. These efforts have resulted in the number of apprentices that are women and minorities rising from 17 percent in 2011 to 26 percent in 2015.

August 24, 2015

The Chicago Tribune: Dold: $100M program would move people from welfare to workforce

Currently under review in a U.S. House committee, the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act would provide wage assistance for employers to help create more employment opportunities. States would receive federal funds to subsidize employment for those already identified as eligible Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, recipients, under the plan.

Tamera Wallace, a 20-year-old Waukegan resident, described her struggles as a single mother trying to find and hold a job to pay the bills. Transportation and child care, she said, are the two biggest issues faced by job-seekers such as herself.

August 21, 2015

WCPO Cincinnati: Mom who left kids alone for job training faces charges

A mom seeking a job is facing charges for leaving her three young kids alone in a case that should remind parents that there is free or cheap child-care available if they need it.

Dozier went across the street for job orientation at Wendy’s and admitted she knew she would be leaving her kids unattended for at least a half hour. But she was desperate for a job, she said.

August 20, 2015

Maine Women Magazine: Non-traditional training can build better future

Founded in 1988, Women Unlimited helps Maine residents move toward earning a livable wage through access to and support of trade, technical, and transportation careers. The nonprofit, which receives the majority of its funding from federal and state sources, began as a welfare-to-work program for single mothers but has grown to aid in the “economic well-being of Maine women, minorities, and disadvantaged workers.”

August 12, 2015

AtmoreNews.com (Alabama): RSTC awarded workforce grant

Reid State Technical College has been awarded a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity ACT (WIOA) grant that will allow youth to obtain education and employability skills. This act will enable youth with difficulties seeking employment to gain on-the-job training opportunities, academic, and occupational skills training.

In order to help alleviate some of the financial burdens that can arise for students, Reid State will offer incentives that could help motivate them to keep pushing forward. Students who participate regularly by taking advantage of the services being offered thru the grant will be allowed to capitalize on their commitment. Eligible students may receive a gas card once a week or every other week and/or receive child care services at least two days a week.

July 22, 2015

The Unionville Times (West Chester, PA): County announces new job training, support initiative

The Chester County Commissioners and the Chester County Workforce Development Board announced Tuesday the start of Platform to Employment (P2E), a program that provides job readiness training, personal support services, finance counseling and paid work experience with the intent to secure jobs for individuals who have experienced long-term unemployment in Chester County.

In addition to intensive career readiness workshops, P2E incorporates financial stability counseling and mental health counseling to help address the inevitable stress factors that long-term unemployment status places upon people.

July 21, 2015

Industry Week: Closing the Gender Gap, and with It, the Skills Gap

A new study finds that manufacturing can attract more women by making a concerted effort to recruit them through their social networks; retaining them through mentorships, better pay and more flexible hours; and fostering girls’ interest in manufacturing careers as early as fourth grade.

Socioeconomic Supports in Job Training Programs: How You Can Help Determine their Value

This post originally appeared in the August/September 2015 edition of NAWDP Advantage, the newsletter of the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals. September is designated as Workforce Development Month.


By Rachel Linn, Communications Associate, and Cynthia Hess, Study Director

Job training can provide an entry into family-sustaining jobs and careers, yet many adults face economic, scheduling, and other challenges that make it difficult for them to enroll and succeed in job training programs. Socioeconomic supports—or wraparound services, such as child care assistance, access to public benefits, and transportation or housing assistance—can help adults, particularly those with caregiving responsibilities, to complete job training programs that will ultimately improve their economic standing.

Socioeconomic supports, as a route to job training access and success, are especially important for women, who increasingly serve as breadwinners for their families, but still face a pay gap. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that as of 2013, women were the primary or co-breadwinner in half of families with children under age 18 in the United States — yet women continue to earn less, and experience higher poverty than comparable men.

Evaluation research points to the importance of socioeconomic support services for job training completion and success. An evaluation of nine sectoral programs found that supportive services were often necessary to help participants complete job training and obtain jobs. In particular, Project QUEST, a community-based workforce development program in San Antonio, had higher completion rates than other training programs of similar duration, which the evaluator attributed to the strong support system that Project QUEST provides. An evaluation of the outcomes of participants in three job training programs in Maryland, Missouri, and New Mexico that implement an approach developed by the Center for Working Families (which bundles core services for participants) found that integrated service delivery was associated with the completion of job training or degree programs, as well as job retention and advancement. In all of the programs, the highest achievers were more likely to have received wraparound services, compared with all other participants.

Despite anecdotal evidence and some studies pointing to the importance of wraparound supports for job training participants, little is known about how many job training programs offer supports of different types and which supports best meet the needs of low-income women, who typically have more caregiving responsibilities than comparable men. IWPR recently launched a research initiative to address this gap. “Socioeconomic Supports and Women’s Job Training Success,” seeks to improve knowledge about the landscape of socioeconomic support provision within the U.S. workforce development system and stimulate national dialogue about the importance of these supports in promoting job training success.

Funded by the Walmart Foundation, the initiative will use a variety of research methods—including a literature review, expert interviews, a promising practices study, and online surveys of administrators and participants from job training programs—to gather and examine information on the prevalence of socioeconomic supports in job training programs, their perceived effectiveness, and promising practices in service support delivery. The project will produce a series of research products and hold outreach activities to promote dialogue among program leaders, advocates, policymakers, and workforce development researchers.

The project aims to provide information that can help programs, and the workforce development system as a whole, effectively target their investments in socioeconomic supports. To help with this study, IWPR is seeking input from professionals in the field as well as job training participants. Please contact Rachel Linn if you would like to participate in a survey, as a part of this national study, or have suggestions for programs that are effectively providing socioeconomic supports.

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