The Great Resignation of 2021 has put a spotlight on employers hiring throughout the community and the nation. Signs advertising higher wages, sign-on bonuses and better benefits certainly make it seem that finding good employment opportunities has never been easier. Unfortunately, for a considerable number of our clients at Our Family that is not the case. The obstacles to employment that our clients faced pre-pandemic still exist and are now compounded by new challenges due to the pandemic.
Many of our clients are going on interviews but not getting job offers. We have clients that are accepting part-time positions hoping that they will evolve into full-time roles and instead their hours are being cut. Only a small group of our clients have been asked to return to the roles they were in pre-pandemic. We have a large group of clients that work in low-wage positions in the food service, retail, and tourism industries and are not seeing the pay increases that are being promised.
Personal barriers to employment also exist, such as relying on public transportation and needing childcare. Our clients that receive employment offers and request assistance for childcare from DES often lose out on the job offer by the time the request is approved because they have missed too much work due to childcare issues.
Additionally, a substantial number of our clients are not vaccinated as they are fearful of the vaccine. Which limits their employment options further, as more and more jobs are now requiring proof of vaccination to work. Being unvaccinated creates other employment obstacles and fears like being fearful of using public transportation which at times is their only means of getting to work and fear of sending their unvaccinated children out of their home, into childcare where they face a higher risk of Covid exposure.
These are some of the many factors that go into why our clients have difficulty finding reliable employment. It’s never as easy as saying, “everyone is hiring, just go and apply,” which is what we and our clients hear all the time. The system is not set up to support everyone, and those with the greatest obstacles to reliable employment, like transportation and childcare challenges, are the ones that need our empathy and assistance the most.
We hope that The Great Resignation causes employers/potential employers to start to invest in creative solutions to employment barriers that these individuals face that will help to lift them out of poverty.