The vast majority of jobs in the future will require some level of education beyond high school. Unfortunately, these jobs are out of reach for the majority of SNAP participants, who often lack the skills they need to compete in today’s job market. To combat this challenge, USDA offers the SNAP Employment and Training (E&T) program. SNAP E&T, which is available in all states, is a skills and job training program designed to help SNAP participants prepare for and secure jobs that lead to economic self-sufficiency. SNAP E&T programs provide SNAP participants the opportunities to gain skills, training and experience, which increase their ability to qualify and get hired for jobs with earnings high enough to transition off of SNAP. A newly released SNAP E&T Best Practices report provides new insights into how states can strengthen SNAP E&T programs and make them more effective at helping SNAP participants gain the skills employers are seeking and support long-term self-sufficiency for SNAP participants.
As USDA’s Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, I’m encouraged by the findings of this new study, which drew from 160 studies on effective practices in SNAP E&T, workforce development, career pathways and adult education. This study identified several notably effective strategies including:
- Serving individuals who volunteer to participate, rather than mandating participation as condition of eligibility
- Using initial skills and barriers assessments that can be used to create a personalized employment plan that addresses participants’ individual strengths and weaknesses
- Taking a comprehensive approach to supporting participants overcome their specific barriers to employment
- Developing partnerships across SNAP E&T programs, community colleges, state workforce development programs, basic skills programs and community-based organizations
- Focusing on developing skills closely linked to labor market demands in the local area
- Encouraging programs that lead to industry-recognized credentials, including certificates and academic credentials
Finally, stand-alone basic skills instructions and job search assistance programs fall short of helping participants achieve lasting self-sufficiency. Programs that combine several components are more likely to help participants achieve improvements in employment and earnings. For example, combining basic skills training with vocational education is more effective.
USDA is committed to strengthening SNAP E&T nationally to ensure SNAP participants develop the skills and get the training they need to obtain and retain employment. FNS has funded a $3.6 million technical assistance effort - the SNAP to Skills Project - that is designed to provide states the technical assistance, tools and resources they need to build more effective and job-driven SNAP E&T programs. These resources combined with the best practices identified in the recent report will help SNAP E&T providers implement programs that will help SNAP participants achieve economic self-sufficiency.
For more information about the study, see the full report on our website: http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/snap-employment-and-training-et-best-practices-study-final-report