Women are clustered in the lowest-paying, lowest opportunity jobs in the economy. Few of these jobs offer access to career paths, so advancement is limited to small increments in weekly or hourly pay at best. Opportunities to advance are also limited by inadequate skills and educational attainment, limited access to skill development opportunities, and lack of knowledge of the labor market and the techniques needed to navigate it successfully. Lack of career planning information and skills is a fundamental barrier to envisioning a meaningful series of steps to move from low-paying jobs to something better. Public policies perpetuate this inadequate preparation by requiring poor women seeking government assistance to get any job, regardless of their interests or skills.

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This is because they have or may have:
➢ less contact with, or knowledge of the labor market, and probably a limited knowledge of career paths,
➢ problems with job retention,
➢ few opportunities for employment leading to family-supporting wages,
➢ barriers to employment such as lower literacy, learning disabilities, low skills, etc., requiring an employment plan that incorporates education, training, and support services.

Create and use career development tools that promote an asset-building perspective for lower-income women. There are few career development tools that focus on lower-income women’s career development. Women need tools to help them assess their needs, interests, and skills, assist them with combining this information with labor market information, and then support them in planning to achieve their goals.

These tools should reflect and take into account the life circumstances of lower-income women:

Create and use career development tools that promote an asset-building perspective for lower-income women.

Implement practices that promote a career asset-building framework for lower-income women who are seeking employment.

Adopt policies that promote a career asset-building perspective for lower-income women.

Increase access to work supports.

Implement sectoral strategies to improve career paths and opportunities for lower-income workers to access good jobs.

Rather than urging lower-income women to get any job and creating policy and programming based on this position, these recommendations urge policymakers, program providers, and individuals to concentrate on building career assets through education and training as well as through well-considered, targeted employment choices.

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