Workforce Development is a Pathway Out of Poverty


Poverty is generally described as a condition or state with a lack of resources. Sometimes, people in poverty are absent social, political, familial, or other resources. Poverty is always defined as a state where financial resources are scarce or absent.

Traditionally, assistance programs provide short term solutions to alleviate the pains of poverty, and a lack of financial resources. Popular assistance programs include food, clothing, shelter, or medical assistance. These temporarily ease the pain of poverty, but by no means cure the real problem. These programs can be very important to a community when administered in conjunction with economic mobility programs.

The only way for families to leave poverty behind is to increase their financial resources, and that is almost always accomplished by increasing earned (work) income.

Unfortunately, for many families in poverty, they have little hope of dramatically improving their earned income. Many are raising children, perhaps in a single-parent family, and stuck in low-wage jobs that are neither full-time, nor include benefits that many of us enjoy. The thought of trying to "go back to school," or be retrained in a new labor skill is almost impossible to imagine, if for nothing else the price tag that comes with that education.

Many industries are starved for good, trained (or trainable) workers to fill vacancies. Skilled trades and unions are seeking apprentices to learn trades like plumbing, electrical, welding, and much more.

So, what we end up with is many unskilled workers who are trapped in dead end situations, and we have employers and trades seeking new workers to make a career in their industry.

This is where MSK’s Culinary Job Training Program comes in. Through partnerships, we're creating a system that supports training or retraining for unemployed or under-employed adults. We launched our program in 2018 and have graduated 10 participants, whose tuition was fully paid through grants and donations to support the program.  

The starting pay for graduates is no less than $10/hour and for several, they achieved wages higher than that. Several graduates have already had advances in their culinary career, equating to more earned income, and pushing poverty further and further away.

What partners do we look for in our Culinary Job Training program? We want job opportunities that are part of in-demand sectors, reward an industry-recognized food safety credential, have local employers, and the graduate can achieve advancement and a bright career opportunity.

For our participants, MSK helps by navigating "when life happens." We connect families to resources while the student is in training; resources like food, housing support, childcare options, counseling, career advice, transportation, and more. We have found that these supports are critical to success. If nothing else, we are an advocate in the student's corner, encouraging them to reach their dreams.

At MSK, we are striving to walk alongside our guests and create long term solutions to poverty and food insecurity. The results of the Culinary Job Training program speak for themselves.  Workforce development is a lasting way out of poverty.