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Recognizing the Dignity of Work

By Susan Hollis

Dignity of work, a tenet of Catholic social teaching, deals with many different aspects of work-related issues, including unemployment, underemployment, and lack of just wages or safe working environment.  These are not simply issues dealing with the lack of money.  The tenet speaks to the heart of one’s purpose.  Not working when one desires to or working for insufficient compensation or in unsafe working conditions degrades one’s dignity.

Pope Francis said, “There is no worse material poverty than the poverty which does not allow people to earn their bread, which deprives them of the dignity of work.” This is a result of “an economic system that puts profit above man.”

Work, in itself, is an important aspect of our lives.  Yes, earning an income to support oneself and one’s family is crucial to survival.  However, the rewards are more than monetary.  Time spent working towards a larger goal gives importance to one’s daily life.  Work can provide motivation to learn, innovate, and improve self-discipline.  Work gives humans the chance to be co-creators with God, giving meaning to one’s own journey.  As advancements are made with new ideas, techniques, and relationships, the common good can be supported in new ways for the greater glory of God.

To combat unemployment and underemployment and create room for growth, the Catholic Charities West Virginia’s Center for Community Learning and Advancement (CCLA), located in Huntington, encourages adults to continue to advance their skills.  The CCLA offers high school equivalency instruction, preparation for post-secondary training programs, and certifications in customer service, hospitality, and digital skills.

“We aim to create lasting and meaningful change in the lives of our adult learners by providing them with information, skills, and credentials that will benefit them at every stage of their lives,” says Megan Shoub, CCLA Adult Education Instructor.  “When someone has obtained a diploma or certification with us, he or she is in a better position to succeed in other educational programs or find more lucrative employment. We want to prepare our learners for stable, fulfilling lives and careers.”

The CCLA is currently offering a free 6-week Career Readiness Course.  Running from January 22 – March 5, 2019, the course offers job skills and the option to earn career certifications to help participants stand out to employers and college admissions counselors. Call 304-650-3514 or email to register.  Enrollment is also open for Tech Fundamentals, a course focusing on web-based services, account security, mobile devices, and other basic digital skills.

There is great value in work regardless of position.  Work allows one to participate in community and help to uphold the common good.  It can be an outlet for one’s creativity and self-expression.  It allows one to provide for one’s family.  As Pope Francis reminds us in Laudato Si, “We were created with a vocation to work… Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development, and personal fulfillment.”

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