I was watching a Lead Center webinar on maintaining employment through economic advancement strategies and it got me thinking about how our work and systems might be transformed if we shifted our focus.
What if we focused on helping job seekers achieve employment and financial stability rather than on helping them "find a job?"
In reality, when we work with people to help them find employment, our ultimate goal is to help them achieve some stability. But this isn't an explicit purpose or focus of the workforce system. We're much more focused on "getting a job," which is only one strategy for achieving greater stability.
I've written before about why we need to expand our discussions about this, but it occurs to me that if we shifted to a focus on employment and financial stability it could open us up even more to how we could better support our job seekers.
If employment and financial stability was the focus, then we might:
- Help people think about developing multiple income streams, especially through combining employment with "side gigs" and small business opportunities.
- Support people in longer-term career assessment, planning and management, especially for those people who enter into entry-level employment or who are under-employed in dead-end jobs.
- Find ways to help people who are currently working anticipate and address potential lay-offs BEFORE they happen, so that individuals can be pro-active, rather than reactive.
- Work more effectively with employers to identify and implement lay-off aversion strategies and other work arrangements that would give workers more certainty in planning for their futures.
Right now, I think we're spending a lot of time chasing jobs. As a system, we might be better off taking a step back and really looking at how we could work in our communities to create more stable employment and financial situations for job seekers. By focusing on creating stability, we can help people access many more options and they will get some relief from the anxiety created by uncertainty.