Advocates looking to help low-income people train for family-supporting jobs should check out a new guide released by Seattle Jobs Initiative. The SNAP E&T Advocates Guide provides advice on practical steps that advocates can take to help states make skills training an integral part of their SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) programs. Skills-based SNAP E&T programs utilize partnerships with community colleges, community-based organizations, and other funds to expand quality education, training, and support services to SNAP recipients. When used in this way, SNAP E&T can help prepare recipients for middle-skill jobs with family-supporting wages.
It’s a good time for advocates to weigh in with state leaders and agencies on SNAP E&T. As the labor market tightens, many states are looking for strategies to help people with lower skills get the training and support they need to move into the workforce or advance within their career. States can use their E&T programs – and a combination of federal, state, local, and philanthropic dollars – to provide job training for SNAP participants. Since over half of SNAP households are led by someone with no education beyond high school, expanded training opportunities are critical to help more SNAP participants move out of poverty and into living-wage careers. And the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, which administers the program, is providing resources and technical assistance to help states expand skills-based SNAP E&T programs.
A broad set of advocates, including policy organizations, antipoverty and nutrition organizations, philanthropy, community colleges, workforce development agencies, and others, can collaborate with state SNAP agencies to provide them with the impetus, information, and assistance they need to build out a skills-based E&T program. The Guide includes important tips that advocates can use to develop a successful strategy, including guidance on identifying champions, common obstacles that keep states from developing skills-based programs, and factors that impact SNAP E&T, such as time limits on benefits for able-bodied adults without dependents or programs that mandate E&T participation as a condition of receiving food assistance.
As a companion to the guide, SJI has also released a SNAP E&T Messaging Tool. The tool builds in some of the key messages on the program and why states should use it to help participants build skills demanded by today’s labor market. Advocates can customize the tool to include information specific to their state. They can also use it to introduce SNAP E&T to a variety of audiences who are generally new to the program. The Messaging Tool was developed with feedback from National Skills Coalition’s partners working to advance skills-based SNAP E&T programs in their states.
For more information about Seattle Jobs Initiative and their SNAP E&T work, please refer to their website. For more information on how to develop a skills-based SNAP E&T policy in your state, check out NSC’s Skills-Based SNAP E&T Policy Toolkit.