Workin’ with Tradition

“Workin’ With Tradition” is part of the nationally recognized Workin’ It Out series developed by Dr. Steve Parese. The WWT curriculum has been adapted by Dr. Parese with the help of Opportunity Link and its partners within the Native American communities of Northcentral Montana.

Over the past 15 years, employers across the United States have clearly indicated their single greatest pre-employment training concern: SOFT SKILLS. Individuals with good soft skills have the ability to handle stress, get along well with coworkers and supervisors, motivate themselves, and manage workplace challenges.

These characteristics make job seekers extremely desirable to employers, and have been closely correlated to job satisfaction, retention and promotion. Traditional soft skills programs are often focused on issues more common to busy urban or suburban communities with larger employers and industries. As a result, these curricula have limited relevance to residents of rural, Native American communities.

The goal of “Workin’ With Tradition” is to offer soft skills strategies that more accurately reflect work traditions, family values and employment barriers of Native American, and other job seekers, from extremely rural areas.

The Solution

 The “Workin’ With Tradition” program was designed by Opportunity Link of Havre, MT, with input from employers and key individuals representing Northcentral Montana’s Blackfeet Nation, Chippewa Cree Tribe, and the Fort Belknap Indian Community. It was created in response to the region’s need for a culturally sensitive and appropriate training curriculum intended to:

  1. Acknowledge the difficulties faced by Native Americans who seek employment on or off the reservation;
  2. Prepare job seekers for cultural differences encountered in many employment settings;
  3. Explore the expectations of employers from within both Native and non-Native cultures;
  4. Affirm the Native employee’s personal need to keep his or her tribal culture and indigenous identity intact throughout their working lives.

The Details

“Workin’ With Tradition” is a 10-lesson cognitive-behavioral program that targets rural job seekers of Native American heritage or from close-knit rural communities who are experiencing challenges entering or succeeding in the workforce. Through realistic scenarios with culturally-relevant characters and thought-provoking activities, “Workin’ With Tradition” participants gain self-awareness, emotional self-control, and social skills in interpersonal problem-solving.

The program works best when delivered over the course of 3 to 6 weeks to groups of 12 to 16 participants. Each course requires 1 or 2 trained instructors, who are sensitive to the culture of the reservation community. Coursework may be supplemented with academic and vocational skills training, as well as more traditional employment training such as resume writing, job interviewing, telephone etiquette, etc.