CATALYST v24n2 - ERIC Review: Serving Displaced Workers and Homemakers

Mary P. Hardy
Acting User Services Coordinator

Beginning in the late 1970s, economic restructuring and cuts in social services set into motion the elimination of countless industrial-based jobs and the feminization of poverty. Two-year colleges were well-positioned to respond to these national trends on the community level by developing programs designed to meet the counseling and retraining needs of displaced workers and homemakers.

The following citations represent the most recent ERIC document literature on displaced workers and homemakers. ERIC documents can be read on microfiche at over 800 libraries worldwide. In addition, microfiche or paper copies of most ERIC reports can be ordered from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service by calling 800/443-ERIC. For an EDRS order form, or for more information about our products and services, please contact the ERIC Clearinghouse for Community Colleges at 310/825-3931.

Bugler, Helen, and Newhook, Brenda. Supporting Displaced Workers for Successful Retraining. Newfoundland: Unpublished, [1992]. 8 pp. (ED 348 105)

In response to the closure and downsizing of fish plants in Newfoundland, Cabot College (CC) established a Student Support Services Unit (SSSU) to offer special counseling and advising services to the more than 100 students expected to undertake vocational retraining at CC under the province's Fisheries Adjustment Program. The SSSU hired two student counselors, who, under the direction of a coordinator, supplied and monitored a peer tutoring service, offered information seminars, and established an academic resource bank. The SSSU adopted an open-door policy requiring no prior appointments by students, and initiated a program of group interaction to ease the transition from work to school. Each student entering the retraining program met with a counselor for an initial "get-acquainted" interview. Group sessions, which met three times each week, addressed such student-identified topics as how to read a textbook; note-taking skills; preparing for tests; and coping with stress. During the sessions, students reported having problems of low self-esteem, a disruption of family life, and feelings of isolation from their spouses. For a specific group of 22 students planning to enter a nursing assistant course, a special preliminary curriculum was developed, covering such areas as computers, mathematics, life skills, student success, and orientation to the role of nursing assistant. All 20 of the students who completed the course eventually found union-scale employment as nursing assistants. Of the more than 100 students who entered the program in the first year, only three were terminated, representing an attrition rate much lower than that of CC's mainstream student body.

California Community Colleges. Office of the Chancellor. Seven Years of Gender Equity: Building California's Workforce. Sacramento: Office of the Chancellor, California Community Colleges, [1993]. 16 pp. (ED 356 834)

Since 1984, the Gender Equity and Civil Rights specialist of the Chancellor's Office of the California Community Colleges (CCC) has led the colleges in the strategic development of statewide and college-based Gender Equity, Single Parent, Displaced Homemaker, and Single Pregnant Woman programs designed to improve access and eliminate barriers to vocational education. In 1987, the CCC launched a four-year technical assistance program of on-site workshops to help colleges develop strategic plans for gender equity, resulting in the implementation of programs to combat sex bias at nearly half of the state's 107 colleges. Similarly, under a program known as "New Horizons," 66 of the CCCs are implementing federally funded programs to served single parents and displaced homemakers. Project STEP-UP, currently in operation at three CCC campuses, is a comprehensive program to promote the recruitment and retention of women in the technical/trade programs, while the LINKS project, currently implemented by five CCC campuses, focuses on the recruitment and retention of women in math and science fields through cooperative arrangements with California's secondary and four-year institutions. The Skills Training for New Californians program provides support services principally to Latino single parents/homemakers and single pregnant women, and currently serves about 40 individuals each year. Finally, in the Displaced Homemakers Outreach with Community-Based Organizations program, local community-based organization serve as one-stop resource centers for the colleges. All CCCs funded to conduct gender equity programs must participate in the state's Program Accountability Model evaluation program, which collects demographic data on and tracks services delivered to program participants. Data tables are included.

Dougherty, Barbara B. Single Parents, Homemakers, Displaced Homemakers: A Study of Program Needs, Services, and Activities. Madison: Vocational Studies Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1990. 142 pp. (ED 339 886)

A study assessed the needs of Wisconsin single parents, homemakers, and displaced homemakers and identified barriers they encounter in obtaining education, training, and employment. A total of 770 new participants from 15 vocational/technical colleges responded to a written survey; 335 responded to a program completers' survey; 15 lead staff completed a staff survey; 43 individuals completed an All Staff survey; and 7 program participants were interviewed on site. Of the educational activities presented in the needs assessment, over half of the new participants indicated needs in all areas. Strongest needs were for career assessment, career planning, counseling, financial support, and training for job skills. Overall, age, ethnicity, community size, and participant category somewhat influenced activities and services needed. Fear of failure was by far the major barrier to program participation. Over half of the program completers indicated needs in all areas of educational activities and services. Programs determined participants' needs in various ways. A wide range of educational activities and support services were available and addressed the broad range of needs participants indicated. Better links with community organizations and better communication within and outside institutions were recommended. Extensive data tables and the survey instruments are provided.

El Paso Community College. Advanced Technology Training Program for the Apparel Industry. Final Report. El Paso, TX: El Paso Community College, 1991. 54 pp. (ED 340 901)

A project developed rapid response, advanced technology courses that met the apparel market labor needs of the El Paso (Texas) community. Courses were designed for four options: computerized marker making and pattern grading, computerized front office systems, high technology machinery operation, and high technology machinery mechanics. The project provided training in basic skills and high technology applications to 160 dislocated and underemployed workers. An admissions/assessment/advisement specialist provided group and individual counseling, both personal and academic. Self-empowerment workshops were aimed at improving student self-esteem, motivation, and confidence. The specialist's most important role was as liaison between students and supportive agencies. The project established a computerized apparel industry job placement clearinghouse capable of matching participant skills with both long-term and short-term job openings. Other activities included computer-aided instruction, faculty recruitment, advisory committee participation, student recruitment, and technology infusion. The bulk of the report consists of the following appendixes: a list of industry representatives; outlines for six courses (i.e., computerized apparel front office systems, programmable double needle sewing machines, programmable specialty sewing machines, programmable single needle sewing machines, computerized apparel marker making and pattern grading, and advanced industrial sewing machine technician); project forms; and correspondence.

Evaluation and Training Institute. Trends in Gender Equity: Vocational Education Resource Package. Los Angeles, CA: Evaluation and Training Institute, 1993. 23 pp. (ED 357 791)

Designed to assist community college administrators and faculty in enhancing vocational education programs and services, this resource package explores gender equity efforts in vocational programs in the California Community Colleges (CCC), describing successful program strategies currently in use in the colleges. The opening section of the report reviews gender equity legislation in California, provides information on the current distribution of gender equity funds within the CCC, and describes the target populations for funding (i.e., single parents/single pregnant women, displaced homemakers, and students enrolled in courses with 80% or more opposite sex enrollment). Next, the report provides descriptions of the following six gender equity programs in the CCC: (1) Project STEP-UP: Preparing Women for the Trades, designed to increase skilled female workers in the skilled trades; (2) Elimination of Sex Bias mini grants, currently in use at more than 30 CCC colleges, to encourage men and women to enter vocational programs that are nontraditional for their sex; (3) New Horizons, a program providing special services and courses for single parents and displaced homemakers; (4) LINKS, a program that prepares women for careers in nontraditional technical fields; (5) Skills Training for New Californians, providing support Services to immigrant single parents, single pregnant women, and displaced homemakers; and (6) Displaced Homemakers Outreach with Community-Based Organizations, providing counseling and education services to dependent women. The final section reviews specific recruitment and retention strategies of successful gender equity programs. A list of program contact people is included.

Joliet Junior College. Dislocated Worker Assistance Center: Information Packet. Joliet, IL: Joliet Junior College, 1991. 35 pp. (ED 333 915)

The Dislocated Worker Assistance Center (DWAC) at Joliet Junior College (Illinois) is a comprehensive employment and training program for individuals with established work records who have lost their jobs because of layoff, plant closure, or changes in technology in the workplace. The DWAC was elected to serve as the National Demonstration Center for the Retraining of Dislocated Workers, providing vocational education and services, as well as conducting research to assist other institutions in establishing or improving dislocated worker projects. The primary services offered by the DWAC to employers include providing a pool of qualified job applicants; prescreening job candidates; developing customized training programs; utilizing on-the-job training (OJT) funds to reimburse employers for 50% of the wages paid to OJT participants; and assisting employers in accessing other grant and incentive programs. Services provided to eligible program participants include vocational and job readiness assessment; career counseling; occupational training and retraining; job search and placement assistance; and outreach and coordination with community-based and state agencies. This report presents the DWAC philosophy and organizational structure; reviews the program application steps describes program services and ancillary programs providing services beyond the scope of the DWAC and present eligibility criteria for dislocated workers. A separate report provides brief descriptions of the components of Joliet's Institute of Economic Technology, including the Small Business Development Center, DWAC, Business Assistance and Training Center, Community Assessment Center, Entrepreneurship Services Center, and National Demonstration Center.

Northern Kentucky University. Single Parent/Homemaker Project: SP/H02. Final Report. Highland Heights: Northern Kentucky University, 1989. 40 pp. (ED 340 906)

A study investigated why single parents and displaced homemakers did not choose nontraditional careers more frequently. A survey was administered to 171 men and women in 7 locations in Kentucky who were enrolled in single parent/homemaker programs or in Job Training Partnership Act, vocational training, or associate degree programs. The six-part survey explored the image participants had of people who chose traditional versus nontraditional employment. It asked participants to rank reasons for choosing the job for which they were training and tested the strength of their preference for traditional careers. Participants were asked to name traditional-male and traditional-female jobs in response to questions, and employment and demographic information was collected. Female participants found a female who had chosen a female job more attractive, feminine, and high class. Interest and opportunity for advancement were the most important reasons females gave for choosing to train for traditional jobs. The average number of traditional-male jobs selected was 10.1 (out of 16) for males but 2.7 for females. Females thought female jobs would be more satisfying, interesting, and sex appropriate. Three reasons for choosing traditional careers were suggested: (1) traditional jobs were more interesting, made one more attractive, and were most appropriate; (2) women received misinformation; and (3) training for nontraditional jobs was unavailable. More counseling about nontraditional careers was recommended. The survey instrument is appended.

Washington State Board for Community College Education. Dislocated Worker Programs in Washington Community Colleges, Fall 1986 to Spring 1990. A Report Prepared by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Operations Report No. 92-1. Olympia: Washington State Board for Community College Education, 1992. 35 pp. (ED 345 791)

In 1992, a follow-up study was conducted by the Washington community colleges of students who had been enrolled in dislocated workers' programs between 1986 and 1990. The study sought to determine the current status of the students in terms of reemployment, job search skill development, and attitudes towards the programs. Study findings, based on responses from 564 program participants out of the 941 served during the four years, included the following: (1) 70% were employed by the time of the survey, with most returning to jobs within a few months of their job loss; (2) of the 30% not returning to work, half left the workforce as retirees or homemakers and half were looking for employment at the time of the survey; (3) of those reemployed, 47% gained jobs at the same or higher level of pay, 62% reported gaining secure jobs that paid a "family wage," 11% returned to the job from which they had been laid off, and 53% held jobs related to their training; (4) Economic Dislocation and Worker Adjustment Assistance Act (EDWAA) trainees were significantly less likely to gain employment than Trade Adjustment Assistance Act (TAA) students (57% versus 82%); (5) EDWAA trainees who were reemployed were much less likely than TAA students to report earning a "family wage" (47% versus 70%) and reported that gaining a job took one or two months longer than it did TAA participants; and (8) "satisfied" or "very satisfied" marks were given by 76% of respondents regarding the quality of instruction at the community colleges, by 30% regarding help with the trauma of job loss, by 25% regarding help finding needed social services, and by 61% regarding the help they received from the Job Training Partnership Act or the Job Service Center. Appendixes provide the survey instrument, data summaries, and a description of a focus group process used to gather qualitative data.

Wulf, Douglas, and Others. Evaluation of the Job Retraining Program. Des Moines: Iowa State Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 1991. 57 pp. (ED 352 450)

Iowa's Job Retraining Program was evaluated through a review of operations, surveys/interviews with community college staff, and survey responses from 43% of the business participants. Resulting recommendations were as follows: (1) retaining the program in the Department of Economic Development rather than transferring it to the state's 15 community colleges; (2) improving program planning by having the community colleges submit a list of "probable" applications for the first six months of the fiscal year and then another for the second six months; (3) eliminating the requirement that businesses meet only one of three criteria to be eligible for a grant for forgivable loan or at least providing a measurable way to judge an increase in the quality of positions; (4) encouraging smaller companies to participate by proposing alternative funding and reducing or eliminating the required one-to-one match; (5) asking the Department of Education to offer community colleges some incentives for providing Job Retraining Program instructors; and (6) using a single form on which businesses can provide available information for evaluation.

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