America needs a strong work force, to help ensure we remain a world leader. Every individual willing and able to work should be afforded the opportunity to work. Part of this must come in a transition from government assistance to the work force, in a just manner.
Welfare to Work
As someone who grew up on Welfare, I experienced first hand the struggle to provide even basic needs. I saw the stigma which came with using Food Stamp at the grocery store. I saw how people looked down on those “feeding from the government trough”. Things need to be reformed, but must be done in a manner that allows for a more permanent transition to work.
The tradition solution seems to be tax incentives for employers to hire welfare recipients. This is great for those employable in this manner. I feel for the vast majority who might lack the skills or have been out of the work force for a while, other options should be explored. I remember growing up, for a while my father collected General Relief, a form of government assistance, and was required to work a certain number of days at the LA County Court in Downtown LA. The idea of work is important and we can extend that to allow for those within the system to work and be marked as “employees” rather than just recipients working their required days. This would serve as “employment” which can be used on a job application. This simple step might make it easier for those within the system to become more employable.
Another option is to allow and even cover education or training costs for those within the system, to gain the necessary skills to be seen as employable by employers. While I personally was on General Relief here in California the winter of 2009 and homeless, the available options for training were limited and nearly impossible to get into. The only option I remember was security and spaces were limited. Opening education and training opportunities can assist those without the skills to gain employment, to gain the needed skills.