The Families First Project is an advocacy campaign of the Minnesota Catholic Conference to remove economic roadblocks that Minnesotans confront along their journey of forming and raising a family. This week’s column focuses on one Families First policy proposal that helps young people identify and secure stable long-term employment in the trades.
Barriers to family formation
Many young people lack confidence about their long-term economic prospects and are therefore delaying marriage and parenthood or skipping them altogether. Steadily declining marriage rates and birthrates among middle- and lower-income earners confirm a growing perception that marriage and parenthood are mere lifestyle choices that can only be sustained by the wealthy and fortunate.
Access to rewarding employment that allows people to support their families is essential to ensuring more people who aspire to the vocations of marriage and parenthood feel confident to pursue this calling. Yet, the number of jobs that do not pay a wage that can support a family, even with two full-time workers, is concerning. Last year, the AEI-Brookings Working Group on Childhood in the United States reported that “one reason marriage is fragile in many poor and working-class communities is that job stability and income are inadequate, especially for workers without a college degree.”
Minnesota can help lessen the costs of family formation by nurturing the employment skills of young men and women without saddling them with the mountains of debt that create further roadblocks to family formation.
Vocational Careers in the Pursuit of Vocations to Marriage and Family Life
Remunerative, reliable, and rewarding jobs remain a key ingredient for young adults considering marriage. Technical and vocational programs offer access to well-paying, middle-class careers that do not require the debt that is typically tied to a college degree. For many young people, this job pathway can be the answer to supporting a family.
Contact your legislators and urge them to support S.F. 596 (Dornink) / H.F. 802 (Mueller). This legislation would create $5,000 grants for individuals enrolled in vocational programs to help pay for training, tools, or licenses necessary to enter in-demand career fields. The legislation stimulates entry into vocational programs and makes them easier to afford.
Another bill, S.F. 1599 (Putnam) / H.F. 1996 (Lislegard), would renew funding for the Minnesota Virtual Academy's Career Pathways Program with Operating Engineers Local 49. This program provides high school students with up to five semesters of courses that lead to eligibility into the Operating Engineers Local 49 apprenticeship program, which trains people to be mechanics and heavy-duty equipment operators.
Not everyone needs to attend a liberal arts college following high school. But post-secondary training is a key rung in the ladder of economic opportunity. These programs can put vocational training within the reach of more low- and middle-income Minnesotans.
Share your stories with us!
Do you work in the trades? How has a career in the trades prospered your family? How could a $5,000 vocational program grant help further your career and ability to support your family? Do you have a son or daughter in high school who would benefit from an internship in the building trades?
Send your stories, ideas, and comments to the Minnesota Catholic Conference by visiting MNCatholic.org/contact.