In California and particularly in Los Angeles County, employment alone does not eliminate poverty. In the County, 16% of working adults from ages 25 to 64 are living in poverty. Among the working poor population, half work full time and year round (PPIC, July 2018).
The Public Policy Institute of California revealed in their independent, non-partisan research that working poverty is mainly ascribed to wage rates, high living cost, and inadequate social safety net, rather than insufficient work hours. The organization concluded that the most promising strategies for improving wages for many of the working poor require access to high-quality education and training (PPIC, July 2018).
Propel L.A. are working on three major projects to support the working poor:
- “Hire Ed” in high schools — In collaboration with the County Office of Education, Propel L.A. is developing an 8-video series featuring high-demand, well-paying jobs to be shown in the 2018-20 academic year in more than 100 high school homerooms and classes across the County. The video series will introduce students from disadvantaged backgrounds to careers they may not have otherwise known about and will encourage them to pursue a post-secondary education track in which will most likely yield immediate employment upon completion and at livable starting wage.
- Workforce development in community colleges — In partnership with Los Angeles County’s community colleges, non-profits, and Goodwill, Propel L.A. are reaching the underemployed, disconnected youth, formerly incarcerated, and low-income populations to connect them to local short-term job training opportunities at community colleges. The job training programs prepare the populations to obtain a career in high-demand, well-paying industries that they may not have otherwise known about or had access to (Propel L.A., April 2018).
- Expansion of ESL classes among adults — Partnering with adult education leaders in the County, Propel L.A. is actively supporting the expansion in the number of ESL classes and high school equivalency program. We are using these classes to promote well-paying career pathways to the students enrolled. This involves an education campaign to local state legislators on the importance and value of adult education programs in lifting historically disadvantaged residents, e.g. low-income, formerly incarcerated, etc., out of poverty and into self-sustaining careers, with the goal that they will propose and approve additional funding for adult education.