Getting a good job these days takes more than good intentions because today’s jobs require a higher level of skills than ever before. This is why the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s Employment and Training Program (SNAP E&T), administered by states across the country, has such an important role to play in helping SNAP recipients gain the skills they need to find and keep good jobs. This is also why the U.S. Department of Agriculture is committed to supporting this effort.
USDA demonstrated that commitment in two new initiatives launched just this week, the SNAP E&T Learning Academy and a new website for the innovative SNAP to Skills Project, led by the Food and Nutrition Service. The Academy breaks new ground, as a first-ever opportunity that will help address an identified need. You see, though SNAP E&T programs operate across America, we’ve found that there is an opportunity for further sharing of best practices and lessons learned by developing resources that spread the knowledge base throughout the country. The two new projects launched this week will use a “train-the-trainer” model to create new leadership capacity to build the next generation of SNAP E&T programs.
The Academy, operating as part of the SNAP to Skills project, will provide an opportunity for a select number of individuals to gain technical expertise on SNAP E&T that prepares them to work within their state or across multiple states building job driven SNAP E&T programs. FNS will select up to 35 participants for the eight-month engagement, drawing applicants from state and local government, along with advocacy, research and other organizations that have a significant stake in issues related to education and training strategies for SNAP participants.
The new SNAP to Skills website is designed to be a “soup to nuts” resource for states and their partners to learn about SNAP E&T and how to build a job training program that addresses the comprehensive needs of SNAP participants. USDA established the broader SNAP to Skills Project last year to provide states with the tools they need to build job-driven programs. The new online resource announced this week will feature a range of helpful information, including updates on the 10 states receiving direct assistance from FNS through SNAP to Skills, best practices, success stories from participants, plus SNAP E&T policy and official guidance.
Coming soon, the website will post a comprehensive workbook to guide states and their partners through the steps needed to build a program that helps SNAP participants obtain and retain jobs. Topics covered include how to identify qualified training providers, how to build SNAP E&T into a career pathways effort, how to use data systems to streamline partnerships between training providers and states — and much more.
Without access to job-driven education and training programs, today’s workers won’t have the skills to fill tomorrow’s jobs. In fact, by 2020, experts estimate that two-thirds of all jobs will require more than a high school degree—yet many SNAP participants have not reached this level of education. Few federal programs offer as many opportunities as SNAP E&T to provide in-demand job training and skills to low-income and low-skilled individuals. As we move forward, SNAP E&T will play a vital role in preparing SNAP recipients to meet the looming need for skilled workers.