research on employment in Princeton area

sociological research before the UX

There is a blackbox that needed to be unearthed before the job search app began. It came out of the user need to fill the gap for the low-wage work force in Princeton. Combining the various disparate elements of the ongoing employment efforts underway by many agencies in the area was a task in itself. Some of the work that is happening on unemployment, job-search and job readiness around town is listed below.

First is the summary of the meeting I had with Elisa Niera of Princeton Township Human Services. The work seems to dissect across income boundaries. She was the key figure providing all the following details.
1. Latinos in Progress (POC: Nina Lavado) – no website to get more details.
2. Committed and Faithful Princetonians (YMCA) (POC: Larry Sprull and Fern Sprull), mostly work is with African American populace.
3. Elisa Niera working with Stonehill Church- a non-denominational church with skilled patrons who are participating in a mentoring pilot program for job-readiness. December 19 is the 1:1 workshop/pilot and it caters to skilled workers. Niera works with GA (general assistance) and TANF (temporary assistance to needy families) folks to bring them into the workforce.
4. Library itself has programs for employment in terms of resume building, interview prep and mostly catering to white collar jobs.
5. Princeton University- POC is Christine Applegate is the Director of Community and Regional Affairs. She is always looking to engage with the community and this might be something that the university might be willing to take on.

Secondly, Princeton Housing Authority has a room were Latinos meet for community events. This center is a possible place to meet more job-seekers and also engage with groups for further research on technology usage, prototype testing and possibly surveys. Since it is the unskilled, day-laborers that need the app, this place might be right to meet with them. The users need support to take on and learn about the app- this is possible through the Human Services, Housing Authority Space (Pennelle Center),
and Library programs dealing with employment. Veronica Olivares (of Mi Pueblo Lindo) does programs at the library and also connects us to the parents at the nursery school where a possible opportunity might be created to meet with the survey respondents or find folks ot do 1:1 interviews.

(In retrospect, meetings at the Pannelle Center and the outdoor area where the day-laborers wait to be picked up turned out to be a great place to do surveys. Hanging out at the Small World Coffee place on Witherspoon got me some great 1:1 interviews).

Summing up:
1. It looks like we have work happening in the area of unemployment but it it’s focused on the skilled work force. This area of work that we started to develop the app/website for is not yet explored and needs some attention.
2. I am very curious to find out the public/census data pinpointing Princeton for understanding the numbers behind this “user need”. I am not sure how to find the data but I think I will put this out there for the engineers to explore.
3. NJ employment details
4. Edderic- the visualization you wanted-
5. Census Bureau
Next Steps?
1. Letter to Mayor Liz Lempert, also to Elisa Niera
2. Letters to other organizations listed above including the University.

Code for America Initiatives on Jobs in America

Author: hema

I am a sociologist turned UX researcher and front-end web developer. I am also a translator of notes that remain in the margins to bring the user of technologies into sharper focus. I also use the term community researcher to talk about the work I do. In the past, as a Director and user experience lead at Code for Princeton I worked with non-profits, community groups, users, and subject matter experts to identify areas of need. I translated this into conversations with brigade members, developers, potential users, and other stakeholders. The applied ethnography and social research skills got me to meet with a diverse set of people across the broad middle class spectrum in Urban India. Living and working in New Jersey for the past several years has given me a great breadth and width of understanding and engaging with people adding critical diversity to my bracket of "users" and experience all rolled in one.

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