After explaining how a person’s history of personal trauma may impact her/his involvement in workforce training and development, this report outlines six principles of trauma-informed practices that should be incorporated into program design and administration to ensure that students and job seekers with trauma barriers are able to succeed in their career pathways.
“Trauma” is defined as “an event, series of events, or set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening, with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.” Underlying structures of power and control in workforce development programs and work environments have the potential to be harmful to survivors by replicating abusive behaviors such as denying an individual choice and serving as “gate-keepers” to the resources and opportunities needed for personal and family support. Six principles of trauma-informed practices are proposed. First, promote physical and psychological safety, as defined by students and job seekers, by validating their experiences and providing nonjudgmental support. Second, build trust by being transparent and consistent in sharing what the program can and cannot do to help participants achieve their work goals by addressing perceived barriers. Third, cultivate mentors and other leaders who can help by sharing similar experiences, identities, and backgrounds. Fourth, foster a culture that promotes dignity, agency, collaboration, and respect that breaks down perceived power differences. Fifth, empower students and job-seekers with a meaningful voice and informed choice in determining the education and career paths that meet their needs. Sixth, acknowledge histories of discrimination and oppression related to an individual’s racial/ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or other identity that can intensify trauma impacts. 2 website references