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Submitted by Bob Spencer on
For me, this is a perplexing question. It is perplexing to me because people have multiple needs. From my personal experiences, low income people want good jobs. At the same time, they, especially younger people, have a strong need to bond with others and gain respect from others and they want to have pride in their chosen self-identity. Also, young alienated people tend to be the ones that commit crimes and otherwise disrupt society. Jobs by themselves often do not prevent crime. In many cases, criminals are not socially competent or do not have other skills that they need to obtain a job. So, if we can help them with their multiple barriers, and then provide a job, then we can expect a healthy integration into society. Another large item is the often strong desire to find a bonding replacement for a lost or destroyed family and community. In these cases, young people may form gangs or join an ideological movement so that they can find a replacement for their lost families and lost identities. I am thinking about the many refugees. I have, on several occasions, had extensive conversations with gang leaders and gang members. Their peer association was almost always a higher priority than obtaining a job. Actually, having the chance to talk to an older person (me) that gave them respect seemed to be more gratifying than a job. Or, in many occasions, gang members and criminals already had jobs, but they wanted to do the illegal stuff too. They were not the ones that had social competency barriers, but they were alienated. It’s complex. So, job development and job placement needs to be integrated with individual multiple issues, and it needs to be part of a wider effort to build social integration and a sense of belonging. Oh—one other thing---when you set-up the job programs, do it individually with each participant. Each one has multiple needs and probably somewhat different priorities. They greatly need that individual attention. I can assure you that you will have a much better success rate than if you conduct classes as your primary or only mode of participant contact. I cannot emphasize that enough. Your evaluations will show much better results for the funds spent on each person. Thank you! Bob Spencer