Lesson 28: Developing Employment Skills

The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, (2000), 206–13


The purpose of this lesson is to inspire us to find and develop employment skills.

Sometimes Women Must Be Employed

In many families a father or husband works to provide for the family’s needs. However, this is not always the case. Women must also be prepared to provide support. Many women work to support themselves, and still others work to support themselves and their families.

  • What are some reasons a woman must work? Write the responses on the chalkboard and discuss them. Be sure to include the following ideas:

Her husband or father is dead.

Her husband or father is disabled through illness or accident.

She is single and must support herself.

The family’s basic needs are not being met with one income.

Unexpected illness or other hardship creates a need for extra income.

Women Should Prepare for Employment

Women should qualify themselves both to be a homemaker and to earn a living.

“An unmarried woman is always happier if she has a vocation in which she can be socially of service and financially independent. … Any married woman may become a widow without warning. Property may vanish as readily as a husband may die. Thus, any woman may be under the necessity of earning her own living and helping to support dependent children. If she has been trained for the duties and the emergencies of life which may come to her, she will be much happier and have a greater sense of security” (Camilla Kimball, “A Woman’s Preparation,” Ensign, Mar. 1977, 59).

Mothers are encouraged to make raising their children their primary occupation, especially when their children are young. They should still prepare to be able to earn a living outside the home, however. Before the mother of small children considers working outside the home to provide the basic needs of her family, she should be certain those needs are valid. She should be sure they cannot be met through careful budgeting and home production. She should make every effort to stay at home with the children.

“Mothers who have young children in the home should devote their primary energies to the companionship and training of their children and the care of their families, and should not seek employment outside the home unless there is no other way that the family’s basic needs can be provided” (First Presidency letter to Neal A. Maxwell and Dallin H. Oaks; quoted by Dallin H. Oaks in “Insights,” Ensign, Mar. 1975, 56).

  • Display visual 28-a, “A woman assisting her disabled husband.”

The mother who suddenly finds herself working as a wage earner for her family, in addition to performing home duties, has great need for education. If she has prepared herself earlier, better opportunities will be available, and she can become employed more quickly.

We should not expect the government or a welfare agency to care for our needs if we can work. Bishop Victor L. Brown said:

“A dole, or getting something for nothing, fosters idleness and dependence and destroys self-respect.

“The Lord’s way is designed to help each of us prepare for our own needs” (“The Church and the Family in Welfare Services,” Ensign, May 1976, 110).

How to Prepare for Employment

  • Discuss the following ways women can prepare for employment. Encourage additional ideas from class members.

Women and girls who are unmarried can:

  1. 1.

    Set a goal for a career and obtain the necessary education and training.

  2. 2.

    Take regular or evening classes to prepare for employment.

  3. 3.

    Seek employment to help them develop skills and gain experience.

  4. 4.

    Seek education to prepare for responsibilities as wives and mothers.

  5. 5.

    Volunteer in hospitals, community agencies, schools, and so on.

  6. 6.

    Learn skills that can be used in the home to earn money.

  • Are there opportunities for part-time work in your area? Are classes available to further your education?

Married women who do not currently need to work outside the home can:

  1. 1.

    Take classes that will prepare them for employment.

  2. 2.

    Check with schools and services in the area for advice and counseling on employment skills and opportunities.

  3. 3.

    Provide volunteer service that will help develop work skills.

Of course, none of these activities should prevent a mother from fulfilling family needs. Instead, she should seek things that will help her become a better mother and homemaker. A class on financial management, for example, could help her find ways to better manage the family budget.

  • What are some additional ways you can prepare yourself for employment?

A sister in Central America was widowed when her youngest child was less than a year old. At first she felt helplessly alone. With three little children to support, she knew she would need to gain some work skills. She enrolled in a class to learn to make patterns and clothing so she could work in her home and be with her children too. She improved her skills so much that she was later asked to conduct some classes for the government. As a result of her efforts and wise money management, her three children were able to attend good schools and eventually become teachers. This sister is one of many women who found ways to develop their talents and turn them into work skills.

When we search for an employment skill, we should decide what we really like to do. If possible, we should select something that interests us. Then we should learn all we can about it. For example, if we decide to produce something at home, we should keep trying until we find an item that sells well and can be made at a good profit. We can show our crafts to friends, neighbors, and relatives. We can display them at county fairs and trading posts.

We should always pray for help in making decisions. We should ask our Heavenly Father to guide us in finding ways to prepare ourselves.

“Instead of searching after what the Lord is going to do for us, let us inquire what we can do for ourselves” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 293).

Earning Money at Home

  • Display visuals 28-b, “A woman earning money at home by cutting hair”; and 28-d, “Homemade baked goods may be sold.”

Many women have found ways to use their talents and interests to earn money at home. This is especially helpful when a mother with small children must work. Here are some ways that women have earned money at home:

  1. 1.

    Sewing children’s clothing, draperies, wedding gowns, uniforms, household items, stuffed animals, dolls, or doll clothing

  2. 2.

    Embroidering, knitting, quilting, crocheting, doing crewel work, making or arranging flowers, making jewelry, doing silversmith work, or making leis

  3. 3.

    Decorating cakes; making tortillas, wedding cakes, bread, cookies, candy, or pies; or packing school lunches

  4. 4.

    Caring for children in the home or teaching a nursery school at home

  5. 5.

    Gardening and selling produce. Fresh home-grown produce is always in demand and sells well. Some women who live in farming communities make jams and jellies from local fruit. They sell them at roadside stands or in stores.

  6. 6.

    Teaching music, dance, or art

  7. 7.

    Providing day care for the elderly

  8. 8.

    Tutoring students

  9. 9.

    Writing for the newspaper

  10. 10.

    Typing or bookkeeping

  11. 11.

    Selling by telephone

  12. 12.

    Acting as a rental agent for apartment owners

  13. 13.

    Boarding someone in their home

  14. 14.

    Providing foster care for handicapped children

  15. 15.

    Grooming or caring for animals

  16. 16.

    Styling or cutting hair

We should understand and obey any legal requirements for licenses to work in the home to make money.

  • What are some other ways to earn money at home?

  • Why is it wise to improve our talents even if we never have to work outside the home?

Conclusion

We have been told to provide for ourselves. The scriptures tell us not to be idle (see D&C 42:42). Church leaders have repeatedly encouraged us to care for our own needs.

  • Why is it important to provide for our own needs? Why should we not rely on someone else to do it?

We should all prepare to provide for ourselves and our families. We should begin early to develop our talents. We should qualify ourselves for earning a living if it becomes necessary. We should find ways of earning money, using our talents to bring satisfaction and security.

If we must work, we should gather helpful information about employment opportunities, gain needed training and experience, and be prayerful in our decision making.

President Marion G. Romney said that each of us must work out our own salvation in worldly as well as spiritual things. He emphasized that those who are in need “can be exalted when and only when they are enabled to obtain independence and self-respect through their own industry and thrift” (“In Mine Own Way,” Ensign, Nov. 1976, 125).

Challenge

List talents and skills that could help provide for your family. Choose at least one skill and try to improve it. Begin to develop this skill through practical experience, classes, lessons, or volunteer service.

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Review lesson 27, “Developing Our Talents.”

  2. 2.

    (Optional) Gather a few articles made by women of your area, and arrange them in a display in your classroom.

  3. 3.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.