The TJ Strategy
Millions of Americans face challenges to getting and keeping employment. Employment Barriers such as little or no work experience, lack of basic skills, lack of a high school degree, having a criminal record, disability, homelessness, lack of transportation, or lack of workplace and social skills make getting and keeping a job difficult. The greater number of employment barriers a person is faced with the less likely they are to succeed in work. The number of people in America with serious employment barriers is alarming and rising. Transitional Jobs is an employment strategy that seeks to overcome employment barriers and transition people with labor market barriers into work using wage-paid, short-term employment that combines real work, skill development and supportive services. Transitional Jobs have also been referred to as public service jobs, community service jobs, and publicly funded employment. Transitional Jobs program participants earn a paycheck, learn skills, may become eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and receive intensive mentoring and support. This is the first step toward permanent employment and economic opportunity for many people who would otherwise not be working.
Types of TJ Program Models:
Transitional Jobs (TJ) placements vary, depending on the type of TJ program. There are three main program models: individual placement, work crews, and social enterprises. For each program model, program participants work with a mentor at the work site.
Program staff members work with individual participants to place them in a Transitional Job. Types of placement sectors may include clerical, maintenance, food service, and childcare. There may be only one TJ participant working at a work site or there may be a few. This is the most common TJ model.
• Maximum Choice – Matching job site and participant skills/interests.
• Diversity & Number of Employer Relationships – Community buy-in and support through employer engagement and relationship building.
• “Realest” of Real Work Experience - Participant working with people NOT in an employment program. Immediate feedback from colleagues and peers.
• Staff Intensive – Monitoring individual job sites (subsidized & unsubsidized) and participants.
• Diversity & Number of Employer Relationships – A lot of relationships to manage. Need for good organization.
• High Need for Role Clarity, Communication of Expectations - Program staff must set clear roles and expectations of employer. Employment site mentor is critical.
Work crews of five to seven TJ participants under the direction of a supervisor are sent each day to work sites to perform a job. Jobs often include maintenance, repair, and sanitation jobs for parks, schools, and government facilities.
• High Control – Work environment is highly controlled by crew leader.
• Job Developer Role Streamlined – Job developer concentrates on unsubsidized placement sites only.
• Daily Observation of Progress – Supervisor onsite to see growth and progress of participant.
• “Good” Peer Pressure – Group of participants helps foster adherence to ideal behaviors of work.
• Less Flexibility – Job environment is less flexible to TJ participant skills/interests.
• Job Congruency – What jobs are participants transitioning to in unsubsidized employment?
• Focus on Behaviors of Work – Work setting forces TJ program to think critically about behaviors of work that must be achieved before transition.
Social enterprise TJ programs currently include a packaging plant, a manufacturing company that produces soap products, a bookstore, a moving company, and numerous retail cafes.
• Maximum Control - Every TJ position is one you develop and manage through your business.
• Diversified Work Experience – Participant has the opportunity to work in a number of different jobs, all within the same program.
• Revenue For Wages – Product or service allows for non-restricted program funds for participant wages.
• Similar Advantages to a Work-Crew Model
• Capital Needed to Start – Social Enterprises are expensive to start.
• Staff Intensive Creation & management of business WHILE employing persons with barriers to employment.
• Transitioning BEST workers dilemma - The goal of TJ is the transition. When people are ready to transition – they are your BEST workers. Balancing social and business mission.
• Market Influence – Your program depends heavily on demand for your product or service.