Establishing Domestic Work as a Respected Profession through Workforce Development

Dec062016

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Mariana Viturro, Deputy Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
Mariana Viturro, Deputy Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance

Guest blog post by Mariana Viturro, Deputy Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance

Domestic workers — nannies, care workers and housekeepers — support families in providing the most basic physical, emotional, and social care needs for their children, elders, and home. They are overwhelmingly women, and predominantly women of color and immigrants, many of whom are undocumented. Despite being critical to the U.S. economy and families, the workforce is among the lowest paid, undervalued, and least supported.

With 10,000 people turning 65 every day in the United States and the overwhelming preference of seniors to age in the home, there will be an increasing demand for care and the domestic workforce. Like many other service jobs, they cannot be outsourced or automated. The projected growth of the domestic work labor force means that it is critical that we support these workers, not by training them out of the sector, but by making their jobs quality jobs.

Our workforce development program seeks to establish domestic work as a respected profession with the dignity, respect and compensation it deserves. To this end, in collaboration with the Communities that Work Partnership, we developed a new framework, a career lattice, which unlike a career ladder, includes vertical and horizontal landing points. We also examine how items such childcare and other secondary items could impact job training.

Our training program promotes ongoing professional development within the sector itself and promotes career tracks and specialties within each domestic work field that are reflective of the best practices of care, needs of employers, and the career goals of domestic workers themselves. The training equips domestic workers with the competencies needed to advance along this career lattice to increase earning potential and navigate a growing job market.

A workforce development training program, even with the best model and approach, is not enough to raise the standards of the work. As we provide the necessary training to domestic workers, we also need to transform the overall economic development system to uphold a caring economy and fundamentally value care work.

Training is a critical ingredient and intimately tied to improving job quality and conditions, but it is just one intervention in a multi-pronged strategy. We need legislative campaigns to win inclusion and expand labor protections and regulation for domestic work, culture change strategies to shift social norms on the value for the work, and leadership development and empowerment of domestic workers to be agents of this change.

This guest blog is a part of the CTWP series celebrating collaboration across seven U.S. communities.  This blog also is a part of a monthly series highlighting the contributions of the Commerce Department’s agencies to the Open for Business Agenda. This month’s focus is on Skills for Business.

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Last updated: 2016-12-09 10:26

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