National Economic Justice Report: Beyond Workforce Development for Survivors of Trafficking

May 4, 2023

Job training and workforce readiness programs are common across the US for equipping individuals in marginalized communities with the skills and social support to enter the traditional workforce. While models and served populations vary widely, the goal is to identify common barriers to meaningful employment and create new pathways into existing systems. Across many social justice areas, job programs are often one of the first significant program models that emerge when serving a newly-identified population or need, such as previously incarcerated individuals, single parents, or individuals with disabilities.

Within the anti-trafficking sectors specifically, these job programs emerged in the early 2000s. While survivors were successfully graduating, these organizations’ employment programs and long-term economic stability rates remained extremely low unless the survivors were hired internally within the organization whose job program they participated in.

While employment programs can provide immediate and relative economic stability and social support for survivors after exiting, they are just one component of long-term stability. Supportive and empowering workplaces are required to move forward with healing and career goals, which requires collaboration between legislators, employers, survivors, and direct service providers.

Nomi Network funded the research, production, and translation of this report, which the Avery Center conducted in collaboration with other survivor-led organizations. Learn more about the experiences of survivors in the workforce and how companies can become more trauma-informed and affirming to support survivors of human trafficking.

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