Expanding the Jobs Space: Women and the New Frontier

There are not enough jobs. Despite workforce development programs, re-education efforts, and reported growth sectors, there are simply not enough meaningful opportunities for all who seek them.

I am painfully aware of this fact, especially when I help individuals apply for jobs. As we tighten their resume and reframe their experiences, we are in essence trying to win opportunities from others who are equally deserving.

This notion of competition for limited opportunities serves as the very foundation of the job market and the pipelines that feed it. It’s a notion that is inherently self-limiting.

When I play my favorite game of imagining the best case scenario, in this case every job that is posted in the local employment ads filled, and ask myself whether it would be enough, the answer is a resounding no.

Through the lens of community development our situation becomes even more frustrating. The existing space of job openings is neither necessarily nor sufficiently tied to strengthening our communities.

And so while we are trying unsuccessfully to tackle one problem- underemployment- we are ignoring the deeper and more systemic problems of community development and sustainability.

We need to expand the jobs space. There is no other way. We need to create new opportunities for people to contribute and earn. But ideally, many of these new opportunities should have positive impacts on the community- by design.

How do we do this?

We can expand space by building new models that make services accessible to the public, while also creating awareness and interest in their value- thus expanding the market.

There are many examples of services that are ripe for expansion. Mediation, the healing professions, consulting- all process related services that help individuals and organizations function at their best toward the greatest impact. And although practitioners exist within our communities, they are currently competing for a very limited audience that recognizes the value and can pay for their services.

But by educating and promoting the value, by coming together to form workshops, consortia, and well promoted events, we can actually create more spaces and opportunities for jobs, providers, and variations to emerge.

You can see this trend in the world of education where consultants and specialists can help with virtually any aspect of curriculum design, support, or reform. Since schools and districts can pay for these services through grants and other available funding sources, a rich market of vendors has emerged, expanding the space for new providers and paradigms.

Once a market is established growth and diversification will come.

Every day, I meet talented individuals ready to work and contribute to their communities but unsure how to find their way. The fact that most of these individuals are women suggests a unique opportunity for new models to be developed and customized.

Can these services make money and create jobs? Absolutely. But they can also result in stronger and healthier communities that value the contributions and wellbeing of all their citizens.

Clearly, this is a new frontier worth exploring.

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About mbhuber2013

convener and co-founder of BTEP, instructor for Tanzania Study Abroad course; Associate Dean for Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning at University at Buffalo

2 responses to “Expanding the Jobs Space: Women and the New Frontier”

  1. Phiip L Haberstro says :

    Mara you are right on! For years we have been advocating for aggressive expansion of the HEALTH PROMOTION industry (Job Creation opportunity) and strategic investment in the health of the human capital in the Buffalo Niagara Region ,both beacuse of need (Erie and Niagara county population health is poor as rated by the Robert Wood Johnson County health rankings )and opportunity(we now have at least 7 WNY colleges that have significantly expanded their Health and Wellnes degree granting programs in the last decade. Three very specific JOB CREATING and POPULATION HEALTH imroving actions we could take NOW (with leadership and investment from the public ECONOMIC developlment funds and other key stake holders) would include: Hiring the 60 PHYSICAL EDUCATION teachers that are needed to bring the BPS into compliance with existing NYS Ed Dept regulations-This action would immediatly beside fulfilling a NYS legal requirment (and a moral imperative) begin to IMPACT the health and academic performance of our CHILDREN- Regional school District compliance with NYS Physical education would have significant lpositive ong term economic impact by reducing the unecessary use of the local sickness care care system. A second immediate action that will create jobs and public benefit would be investment in the health of our workforce through launching a REGIONAL launch a REGIONALWORKPLACE WELLNESS INITIATIVE that provides assessment , training , support(technical and interns) and evaluation assitance to all WNY EMPLOYERS (from all sectors-Private ,public and nonprofit) This inititive would impact population health ,while creating jobs and facilitating increasing regional asset value by having the healthiest and most productive workforce in North America i The third action in our sytems approach to Local job creation and population health improvement would be to significantly ramp our our efforts to promote HEALTHY AGING IN PLACE- Specifically investment in increasing physical activity , healthy nutrition and falls prevention in our existing older adult population(and the coming boomer population) would again create jobs and provide significant public benefit to our community. If we are to create the quality of life that benfits all of us and NEW employment opportunites that will provide jobs for our young peolpe- THEN (Change) fostering the growth of the local health promotion industry and proactivly (and sytematically) addressing the significant popoulation health improvement NEED and Opportunity we have WNY must be part of any sustainabilty stratagey and shared VISION for our community’s better future- We will continue our advocacy and understand the role that community engagement ,leadership support and especially the value equation! If we say we value our young people and the health of our population then we prove that to ourselves by investing the resources needed to bring about the change we seek! Other wise we will(in Erie and Niagara counties )miss the opportunity and continue to be a community operating on a fialed population health paradigm that does not value its citizens health and its impact on our collective qulity of life… PHIL HABERSTRO 716 851 4052

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