Earlier this week, USDA Undersecretary for Food Nutrition and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon issued an official communication to state SNAP agency commissioners urging them to incorporate job-driven elements into their SNAP employment and training (E&T) programs. The communication identified skill-building for SNAP participants as one of USDA’s top priorities.
It also described the following actions that Commissioners can take to make SNAP E&T programs job-driven:
- Connect programs to jobs that exist in the labor market and make them responsive to the needs of local industries and employers
- Create opportunities for participants to earn employer-valued postsecondary credentials that are portable and stackable
- Promote practices that accelerate learning and transitions to employment, such as contextualized learning, dual enrollment, bridge programs, and career pathways
- Help participants gain work experience by encouraging work-based learning opportunities, such as internships, pre-apprenticeships, registered apprenticeships, and on-the-job training
- Provide robust support services to address barriers to training and employment
- Leverage resources by developing partnerships with other education and training agencies and institutions, such as community colleges, community-based organizations, American Job Centers, adult education providers, and TANF agencies
- Use FNS’s first-ever reporting requirements and additional metrics to measure outcomes and manage program success.
These recommendations reflect best practices in SNAP E&T that NSC has promoted for the past several years. With support from the Annie E. Casey and W.K. Kellogg foundations, NSC has partnered with Seattle Jobs Initiative to elevate SNAP E&T’s potential to prepare participants for family-supporting jobs. As Undersecretary Concannon’s communication notes, Seattle Jobs Initiative is now leading Food and Nutrition Service’s SNAP E&T Center of Excellence, which will provide resources to help states expand skills-based SNAP E&T programs. NSC applauds USDA for its commitment to expanding skill-building opportunities for SNAP participants.