Employment

Beauty, Bracelets and Brainpower

BeadforLife has helped roll hundreds of Ugandan families out of poverty by training HIV-positive women and refugees in the art of bead rolling. They also help connect Ugandan bead rollers with buyers around the world. Not only do women generate income, but the project's expansion also has helped pay school fees for 60 children, given 90 beaders training to help them start other businesses—such as vegetable stands—and funded the testing and treatment of malaria.

For every $10 spent on one BeadforLife product, according to the organization's Web site, $4.30 is reinvested into community development projects that focus on health care, life skills training, vocational training, and affordable housing. "Many churches featured BeadforLife this past holiday season as a way to give a gift that also helped someone in Uganda," co-founder Devin Hibbard told Sojourners. Beaders now make an average of $850 a year in a country where, according to the International Monetary Fund, the average per capita income is $300 per year.

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Sojourners Magazine April 2007
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Career Ladders

Dozens of career-ladder programs have started up around the country over the last 10 years or so. All attempt to counteract the national trend toward low-skill, low-wage jobs by identifying the pathways that people might follow to gradually advance into better jobs. The programs clarify the training or education required to move to the next step on the ladder, and they provide workers with the support services and financial aid they need to complete the training.

Career-ladder programs are helping nurse aides become licensed practical nurses, clerical workers become information technology workers, and bank tellers become loan officers. The VHA Health Foundation, for example, is funding career-ladder initiatives in several cities to enable entry-level workers in hospitals and other health care institutions to advance into technical positions. Shoreline Community College in a suburb of Seattle is working with employers and people moving off welfare to create career ladders in four occupational clusters. As soon as students have enough skills to begin an entry-level job in one of the target occupations, they combine work and continuing education to advance into better jobs.

In some cases the ladders existed already, but employees and potential employees needed assistance in using them. In other cases new positions had to be created to fill in gaps between rungs, and employers had to be educated about the advantages of doing so. In all cases the programs are providing crucial links between employers and workers—and usually links to the community beyond. Most career-ladder programs are partnerships involving some combination of community colleges, unions, community organizations, and employers. Some also receive a great amount of support from government workforce-development agencies, while others operate independently.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2007
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The Working World

Two years of economic slowdown has pushed the number of unemployed to new heights worldwide, according to a recent study by the International Labor Office. The ILO estimates that at the end of 2002 the number of workers living on $1 U.S. or less per day was back to the 1998 level of 550 million. The following percentages represent unemployed portions of regional populations over the last three years:

2000 2001 2002

Percentage Unemployed

Middle East and North Africa 17.9 18.9 18.0

Sub-Saharan Africa 13.7 14.0 14.4

Southeast Asia 6.0 6.8 6.5

Latin America 9.7 9.6 9.9
and the Caribbean

Industrialized countries 6.1 6.4 6.9

Source: International Labor Office's "Global Employment Trends 1" (2002).

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 2003
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