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Is Georgia Works the Answer to Unemployment?

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waok-jeanross125x90 Jean Ross
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Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., president and founder of the Rainbow Push Coalition, has announced his support for Georgia Works, a Georgia job training initiative that according to Jackson “will significantly reduce joblessness by providing job seekers with new skills and employment opportunities.” Jackson added, “Georgia Works should be deployed on a national basis. It is a proven, effective approach to helping the jobless get back to work.”

Georgia Works was launched by former Georgia Labor Commissioner Mike Thurmond in 2003 to combat a rising tide of joblessness in Georgia. Trainees continue to receive their Unemployment Insurance benefits, plus a  small stipend to off-set the costs of transportation and child care while they receive training from a potential employer.

An organization affiliated with Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition participated in Georgia Works.  According to Citizenship Education Fund Vice President Janice L. Mathis, “Georgia Works made sense to us.  It was a win/win.  We got great help while our trainee sharpened his skills.  We work with a lot of families facing foreclosure.  From a morale vantage point, it is better for people to have something constructive to do than to sit at home waiting for the phone to ring.  Georgia Works created a sense of
empowerment.”

Nothing is more critical than putting Americans back to work.  Persistently high jobless rates are stalling the nation’s economic recovery and devastating broad swaths of black, Latino and other under-served communities. For the first time in a generation, poverty is growing in America.

Ironically, high jobless rates persist despite good corporate profits and growth in some sectors.  Employers are apparently frightened of the what-ifs?  Unfortunately, their reluctance to hire keeps unemployment high and consumer demand low, fueling the very lackluster growth they fear.  Thurmond, Georgia’s well-known Georgia former labor commissioner, may have discovered a simple, cost-effective way to lure employers to consider new hires.

While Mike Thurmond was Labor Commissioner, Georgians went back to work faster than in many other states. Today, there are three million unfilled jobs in the country.  According to Rev. Jesse L.Jackson, Sr., “We coul significantly cut the jobless rate by doing a better job of matching job seekers with available work There is no substitute for learning on the job and no better
way to evaluate an employee than to observe them during a trial period of work.”

Georgia Works is designed to give employers a chance to check out a potential employee without making a long-term commitment.  Employees receive needed skills and a stipend to cover the cost of transportation and child care.  Once a job seeker has a chance to try out for the job, many employees decide they are too good to let go.

 

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