Roughly 24 million American children under the age of 18 are living in a single-parent home, and, only one in four single parents moved up in the labor market over a period of three years.
Many of these parents often struggle to acquire in-demand skills, which puts them at a disadvantage in a rapidly changing economy that requires workers to upskill frequently. There are many benefits that come with learning a new skill or updating your current skills: the World Economic Forum found that workers can earn higher wages in new positions with the skills they have, especially if they upskill. Other benefits include finding more rewarding work by pursuing a new career path, moving up in one’s current field, and remaining marketable.
Below, we've outlined how single parents returning to the workforce can make the transition easier.
Take advantage of local programs to find affordable childcare
One of the challenges facing sole household providers when trying to upskill is lack of childcare. A Care.com survey of more than 1,000 U.S. parents found that childcare costs rose for the fifth year in a row, from 2013 to 2018, making the average weekly cost for an infant $211 for a day-care center, $195 for a family center, and $580 for a nanny. If parents can’t afford the rising cost of childcare and don’t have anyone to look after their children, furthering their skills is often placed further down in their list of concerns.
Many organizations exist to help single parents reskill. Organizations such as Denver-based Work Options for Women offer students a six-week training program that prepares disadvantaged workers to find entry-level employment. They equip students with culinary skills, life skills, and ongoing support to retain sustainable employment and pursue a permanent career. To make sure their students are successful, their case management team provides resources and support such as helping students obtain glasses, identification and paperwork needed for employment, as well as childcare and housing.
Affordable reskilling and upskilling opportunities exist
Professional development often costs money. For single parents who can’t afford to pay thousands of dollars for an advanced degree, finding workshops and classes that can help them develop the skills they need to be successful in the workforce is critical. Workforce centers and organizations like Mi Casa Resource Center works to educate, support, and train youth and adults on their path to economic success can help connect single parents to much-needed resources. Mi Casa offers free workshops, networking opportunities, and resume and cover letter help for people looking for a job. They also offer workshops for people looking to start or develop their own business.
Become a lifelong learner at your own pace
As sole household providers, many single parents can’t afford to take time off work or work part-time in order to pursue training that will help them advance their careers. That’s why online learning opportunities such as Colorado State University’s Global Learning initiative are important, because they offer students the opportunity to learn at their own pace. Emily Griffith Technical College is another example of an institution that offers students training programs that can lead to better career pathways and accommodate their schedule; some of these programs can take as little as six weeks to complete.
Although there are a lot of unique barriers that single parents face when trying to move up in their careers or re-enter the workforce, help is out there.
If you are looking for assistance with childcare, housing, and food you can visit www.211.org and they will connect you with a facility that can provide the services you need. Aunt Bertha also connects people with different free or reduced-cost services such as job trainings, food, and medical care.