The people who prepare and harvest America’s crops face a number of challenges in their quest to support their families and help their children gain access to the American Dream. Many of the 2.5 million farmworkers migrate back and forth from various parts of the southern states and California to northern areas of the country, following the crops in order to put together enough workdays to sustain themselves and their families.
Most farmworkers face barriers that most job-seekers do not have to overcome. Many speak a language other than English as their main form of communication. The majority of farmworkers do not have a high school diploma and possess reading and math skills far below those needed to adequately compete.
The National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) is the most successful job training program operated by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)¹. It is a fiscally responsible program aimed at educating and training farmworkers into jobs that allow them to earn an income to sustain themselves and their families. In addition, the program offers a 107% return on investment for the government and a 290% return to their community and state.
AFOP and its 52 non-profit and public agencies that operate the NFJP provide access to training and supportive services to help farmworkers create better futures for themselves. AFOP’s member agencies that are awarded the competitive grants provided by the DOL typically place over 80% of job-training farmworker customers into good jobs with benefits. Even with the increase to $87 million proposed in the FY11 budget, the NFJP will only be able to serve about 2.9 percent or 11,000 eligible farmworkers².
AFOP operates a small technical assistance and training program under a grant from the United States Department of Labor. Through this grant, AFOP coordinates peer to peer assistance to member agencies that request assistance in bringing their job training programs for farmworkers to higher levels of performance. The grant also enables AFOP to have high quality training in various areas of activity that comprise the program known as the National Farmworker Jobs Program authorized at Title I, Section 167 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.
The trainings for individual members take place at the member’s home base. Other training activities are conducted at AFOP’s national conference each year, and at its miniconferences in Washington, D.C. every spring.
¹ NFJP exceeds all other programs’ Entered Employment Rate and all but one program on Retention according to DOL evaluations using combined Unemployment Insurance data and the grantee reported data.
² Eligibility criteria stipulate farmworkers must provide proof of American citizenship or verification they are authorized to work in the United States as well as evidence they earn below the federal poverty line.