National Transitional Jobs Network Discussion Transcript - Workforce Competitiveness Discussion List

National Transitional Jobs Network

Discussion Transcript

Discussion Announcement | Discussion Guest

Moderator’s Introduction:

Good Morning, everyone!

I am pleased to introduce Chris Warland to the Workforce Competitiveness Discussion List and to welcome the new members who have joined since this discussion was announced.

Below you will find and introduction from Chris, and some background on both the Transitional Jobs efforts and of Chris's involvement with it. Chris was one of the speakers at the COABE/ProLiteracy Pre-Conference on Transitioning Adults to Postsecondary Opportunities and Work, and he has a lot of good information that he is able to share about the population that we work with that is the very hardest to transition into jobs. I hope you are ready to "pick his brain" and also to answer any questions he may have for you as to how best to integrate work and literacy training. The attendees at the pre-conference found Chris to be very forthcoming as a presenter, and I know he is anxious to have this discussion with the list as well. Chris joined the list about a year ago, so he isn't exactly a stranger! Please read the message from Chris below, and send your reactions and questions to the list. Let's begin!


Donna Brian, moderator

Workforce Competitiveness Discussion List

Chris Warland’s Opening Message:

Hello everyone,

My name is Chris Warland, and I'm the Program and Policy Liaison for the National Transitional Jobs Network.

Transitional Jobs (TJ) is a workforce strategy designed to help people with multiple or substantial barriers to employment get and keep jobs. TJ uses time-limited, wage-paying jobs, combined with supportive services, to successfully transition participants into the competitive labor market.

TJ programs provide three to nine months of paid work experience, during which the participants' wages are paid by the TJ provider. Work experience can take place on-site, in work crews that are dispatched to various sites, or at local privte, public, or nonprofit employers throughout the community. Participants receive a wide range of supports such as job-readiness and life-skills training, adult basic education and literacy, job search assistance, resume writing classes, transportation assistance, job coaching, and mentoring.

TJ serves populations with multiple or substantial barriers to entering the workforce, includng long-term recipients of public assistance, people with criminal records, people experiencing homelessness, and youth who are disconnected from work and school.

The National Transitional Jobs Network is a national coalition of TJ providers, advocates, policymakers and other stakeholders who support the TJ strategy. The NTJN works at the state and federal policy level to support the TJ strategy, and provides materials and technical assistance to TJ providers. As Program and Policy Liaison, I manage the technical assistance to programs, develop tools and guides for providers, and help disseminate best practices.

I will be available all week to answer your questions about Transitional Jobs and discuss any aspects of workforce preparation for people with barriers to employment. Prior to my career in the field of workforce development, I served for many years as an adult education instructor, so I understand the critical ways in which the fields overlap, and I have a special interest in strengthening the integration of literacy/ABE and employment services.

I'm really looking forward to our discussion!

Chris Warland

Questions and Responses:

Question: I would like to ask Chris if this is a national initiative, if he is aware of any such efforts in Texas, and how costs are addressed.

Barbara Tondre


Question: I am wondering the same thing, except for the state of Illinois.

Laura E. Sherwood

Literacy Coordinator

Adult Education

College of Lake County

Grayslake, IL 60030


There are currently Transitional Jobs programs operating in about 30 states, and the NTJN has members from across the country. In Texas, I'm aware of four TJ programs: Goodwill Industries of Amarillo, Gulf Coast Trades Center in New Waverly, Texas Neighborhood Services in Greenville, and Alamo Workforce Development in San Antonio. There may also be others; there are some TJ programs that are not members of the Network.

Transitional Jobs programs are usually funded through a patchwork of different funding sources, including government grants, government contracts, and private foundation funding. Government funding sources include Food Stamp training funds, TANF, Second Chance Act funds, Workforce Investment Act funds, and many others. Here is a link to a good resource for public funding sources for TJ:

Also, for fiscal year 2010, the President recently signed a $45 million appropriation for the first-ever dedicated line-item funding for Transitional Jobs; it will fund a demonstration project. We are hoping that this will remain in the budget as a stable source of federal funding for all components of TJ programs.

Illinois has many Transitional Jobs programs. The Network is headquartered in Chicago, so I've had the opportunity to visit TJ programs around the region.

Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, which is the institutional home of the NTJN, also offers TJ services to a wide range of populations including formerly incarcerated individuals and low-literacy residents of the Chicago Housing Authority. The CARA/Cleanslate program in Chicago uses a work-crew model to provide transitional employment to people experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. There are also a number of innovative social enterprises that use revenue-generating businesses to provide transitional work experience, such as Womancraft, which makes custom paper goods from recycled paper, The Enterprising Kitchen, which makes soaps, Bright Endeavors, which makes candles, Growing Home, which operates organic urban farms, and Sweet Beginnings, which makes honey products through urban beekeeping. There are also programs in Rockford, E. St. Louis, and Aurora.

The Illinois Department of Corrections contracts with many of these programs to offer TJ to parolees. The City of Chicago's Office of Workforce Development also supports TJ through various contracts.

This is not an exhaustive list of Illinois TJ activity; we are fortunate to have a large transitional employment scene here.


Question: I'm not all that keen on employment, but I know how valuable work is. Maybe TJ (which sounds great even though it's about employment) needs to be supplemented by a program where the government provides microenterprise grants, entrepreneurship, or learn-to-fix-it grants where people learn to do simple home/car/etc maintenance and get the funding to make the fix.

That's what taught me the value of work.

David Dirty Knees


1. That is a great idea, and I have heard of some Transitional Jobs programs that offer courses on entrepreneurship as part of their education and training. I think linkages to microenterprise grants would be a really useful extension of TJ for some participants.


2. In NC we offer a variety of ways to train for transition.

The Growing America Through Entrepreneurship (GATE), a national demonstration program of the U.S. Department of Labor. If you are awarded a scholarship, you will receive special training and other assistance to help you explore self-employment.

The JobsNOW - "12 in 6" Worker Training Initiative designed to benefit North Carolinians who have lost their jobs. This initiative has created community college programs in 12 careers, each requiring less than six months to complete.

Further, similar Continuing education short term training allows the participant/students a transition/bridge from pre GED and GED to 1 yr vocational and 2 yr Curriculum and the opportunity to complete a Career Readiness Certificates(CRC) for all NC citizens of any age. and

Jan Hastings

Question: Hello. I'm a GED Program Coordinator here in Durango, Colorado, and we are very interested in developing a stronger understanding of how best to meet the needs of workplace/adult learners. We attended COABE 2010 and Chris' session as well as many other workplace-oriented sessions, and we want to integrate more workplace skills-based classes.

I would so appreciate hearing from other adult learning centers that made the transition from serving only ABE/GED students (we serve ESOL Ss as well) to those that have incorporated more career/tech courses. Right now, we don't partner in any dynamic way with our local One Stop, but it is not for lack of trying. We hope to change that as we create more opportunities for people more interested in reading, writing, and math workplace skills.

I would also appreciate it if you would share with me the one or two very best resources for this kind of classroom. I picked up Contemporary's Workplace Skills series at COABE, but I value my colleagues' tried and true books, CDs, etc. You know best!

Thanks and glad to be here.

Stephanie Moran

GED Program Coordinator

The Durango Adult Education Center

701 Camino Del Rio Suite 301

Durango, CO 81301


This is in response to Stephanie:

My name is Kristin Morris and I work in WorkForce Education in St. Paul, MN and I believe that our ABE program has done a great deal of work in terms of creating more career related courses into our everyday Adult Education programs. We have Medical Office and Billing course in our program now which has been a wonderful partnership between local colleges and Adult Ed.

We have also partnered with the local WorkForce Center and have been able to bridge our relationships with the universal client who needs ABE services or an Adult Ed learner who needs the WFC services. We are able to provide job skills credentials to all and that has also been a great oppportunity to partner with DEED (Dept. of Empolyment and Economic Development). 

Take care,

Kristin Morris 

Question: Chris,

Do you keep data on #'s of participants and full-time jobs they obtain?

How many of the jobs are related to the training they receive?

Your programs may offer some of the things missing from the old TJTC and OJT programs.

It seems to me that a combo of what you do with ABE and work keys would be one that would work well.

How do the programs decide what training sites fit the individual participants?


We do not have data on the total number of TJ participants nationally, or data on overall outcomes; TJ programs operate independently, so the data we do have are from individual program evaluations. A review of program data from six different TJ programs found post-TJ unsubsidized employment rates ranging from 81 to 94 percent. A number of program evaluations are available here:

TJ programs, whenever possible, typically try to match transitional work experience to the needs and interests of participants, and some offer sector-specific work experience such as food service, maintenance and health care--industries in which TJ graduates are likely to find unsubsidized employment. The extent to which this is possible varies between programs based on how they are structured. Scattered-site TJ programs often have employer partners in a number of sectors and so are able to place participants based on information gathered in the intake and assessment process: interest, aptitude, prior experience, etc. Other TJ program structures have less flexibility regarding the type of transitional work experience they can provide. Overall, a primary goal of TJ is that participants learn how to be successful in the workplace--to "learn how to work--" how to work in teams, get along with supervisors, meet expectations of behavior and personal presentation, etc. These can be learned in virtually any work environment if the right supports are present.

One thing that sets TJ apart from some of the other employment training strategies you mentioned is that TJ, because it targets people with multiple barriers to employment, offers a wider range of supportive services along with the paid work experience and training, and ABE is proving to be an absolutely critical supportive service component of successful TJ programs.


Question: Chris et al,

I apologize for coming late to this discussion and for being a newby. I attended Chris' session at COABE, and our center is trying hard to understand the world of WIA better to partner better with it and bring many more options to our varied students. My question is this: Must an adult ed partner only with a One Stop/Workforce center to receive funding for JT? The Dept. of Human Services seems as though it could be a good partner.

Stephanie Moran


Hi Stephanie,

1. It is not necessary to partner with your local One-Stop or WIB to start or fund a Transitional Jobs program, although some TJ programs do have a good relationship with their local WIB for the purpose of referrals or funding.

There are many potential sources of funding for TJ besides WIA; for example TANF funds, Second Chance Act funds, and food stamp training funds, or private foundation funding. Here is a link to a guide on the various federal funding sources that may be used to support TJ:

There are also some other good resources for financing TJ programs here on our website:

Finally, I would encourage everyone who is interested to sign up for the NTJN newsletter and action alerts; whenever a new funding opportunity for TJ comes up, we will alert our subscribers:


2. We have found that the relationship with the One-Stop and WIB is critical to any transitional programs. The partnerships within the workforce development system provide needed information beyond about requirements and funding for postsecondary through the One-Stops, local labor market information (essential for transition to work and postsecondary), in-demand

jobs and high priority occupations, and hiring trends, as a few examples.

I'm not sure how a program can start an effective program without workforce development partnerships.

KayLynn Hamilton

3. Hi KayLynn,

The NTJN is always interested in examples of successful partnerships between Transitional Jobs programs or other employment programs targeting the hard-to-employ and the public workforce system, local WIBs and One-Stops. We would like to know the characteristics of successful partnerships in order to help facilitate positive relationships and shape future policy. The NTJN's policy team is currently doing a lot of work around federal WIA reauthorization, and this is key information that would help those efforts. If you would like to share more information, please contact my colleague Melissa Young at myoung at



Question: Chris,

I've been wondering about the connection among the "network" part of National Transitional Jobs Network. If someone is thinking about using the Transitional Jobs approach to work with people just coming out of

prison, for instance, does being a "network" mean that they would have programs with that experience already who would be willing to work with them in getting started? How does this sharing happen within the

network? Do you facilitate it?

Donna Brian

Center for Literacy Studies at The University of Tennessee


One very important goal of the NTJN's technical assistance work is to facilitate peer learning among TJ programs--this is often the best way to make sure successful strategies and practices are shared and implemented. Whenever we provide technical assistance, we make an effort to connect the programs we assist with successful and experienced providers that serve a similar population or employ a similar program structure. Often we will coordinate in-person program site visits and peer-learning meetings if proximity or travel budgets allow; or else make electronic introductions via email and facilitate a remote conversation. We are also in the final stages of setting up the NTJN technical assistance forum, which will be a web-based peer learning community not unlike this list, in which providers can ask and answer one another's questions and share strategies.


Question: Hi, Chris--

This discussion is really interesting to me. There is not much going on in the Boston area these days with regard to transitional jobs, though one initiative was talked about a few years back and never got off the ground. But I think it's a great idea and might be a really helpful way for ABE or ESOL students to get some job experience and get on their feet economically and/or start on careers

I used to hear more about them, actually, a few years ago. I do remember some very interesting programs, particularly in the Southwest, trying to start up TJ programs that were more progressive and worker-friendly than traditional "temp" agencies, but I know very little about them, have heard much less in recent years, and wonder whether any of them have grown out of ABE programs or focused on ABE students. Do you know?

Do you have any experience with or thoughts about starting transitional jobs programs for ABE students? Or with ABE or ESOL programs starting one up? And if so, info on how they have fared--both programs and students?

Also--do you know of any transitional jobs programs in the New Orleans area? I would be interested in hearing about that as well, as I'm about to travel there next week.

I realize this is a lot of questions. However, I'll bet others out there on the listserv would be interested in learning more as well. This is such a promising area!

Thanks so much--

Laurie Sheridan, Workforce Development Coordinator

World Education/SABES Central Resource Center


Hi Laurie,

I am aware of a couple of TJ programs in the Boston area; one is called Roca, Inc. and specializes in serving at-risk youth. Also I have been in contact with some of the planners of a rather large subsidized employment program through Action for Boston Community Development which is currently in the implementation phase. There may be others as well.

As far as New Orleans, I am not aware of any TJ programs currently operating there.

I don't know of any TJ programs that were started by adult education providers or with the explicit purpose of serving ABE students, although of course there is much overlap in the populations served, and many TJ programs partner with ABE providers in a sort of reciprocal referral arrangement. Certainly an ABE-focused community-based organization would have some of the necessary capacity already in place to provide TJ; many TJ programs originate at CBOs that provide related services and then expand their capacity to include TJ.

I'd be interested in hearing about any TJ programs in the Southwest, as this region currently seems to have lass TJ activity than the Northeast and Midwest.



Question: Good afternoon,

What is the role of successful TJ students?  Do they circulate back into the program as mentors or tutors for new students?

Barbara Rotolo-Caballero

GED and ESL Instructor

Austin, TX


Hi Barbara,

Many TJ programs that I've worked with regularly have former participants return to provide motivation or mentoring to current participants. Especially in social enterprises that generate revenue while providing transitional work experience, some participants are kept on as full-time staff and serve as peer mentors as well as a source of human capital and skill for the organization.