Guidelines issued by the federal Labor Department earlier this year on training and employment said programs like Georgia Works “provide new skills for the worker, exposure to new occupations and careers, and work experience that can be highlighted on a resume; and may help move the unemployed worker into permanent employment with the employer providing the training.”
Don Peitersen, project director for the American Institute for Full Employment, said the program is good for companies and job-seekers because it gives each a chance to learn about the other. “It’s almost like an elongated interview,” he said.
Belinda Robinson agrees. The program, she said, offered her an innovative way to showcase her skills in the extremely competitive job market.
“One of the biggest battles for people who are unemployed now is trying to make the application process more personal. You’re doing it online, it’s easier for people to deny you,” said Robinson, 28. “I wanted to put a face with the application.”
She turned her Georgia Works stint as an educational program specialist at Georgia State University into a full-time job that pays $40,000 a year.
Fayette County business owner Joyce Travis turned to Georgia Works after having what she calls a string of “bad luck” hiring people who didn’t work out.
“You think they’re going to be great. You train them and realize you’ve made a mistake and all of a sudden all that money’s down the drain and you’ve got to start over again,” said Travis, who owns National Tax Negotiators, a tax-preparation firm near Peachtree City. The program teamed Travis with Melissa Brown, who got six weeks of training and a chance to display the skills of her accounting background.
Brown, a 43-year-old Clayton County resident, was laid off at UPS in 2008 and was nearing the end of her unemployment benefits when she signed up for Georgia Works last December. She was hired permanently in January, earning about $430 a week plus commissions. This month, for example, she expects to earn about $1,500 in commissions.
“It was just heaven-sent,” Brown said.
As for Travis? She was able to get a reliable employee in time for the busy tax season.
“I was elated. You could try someone out for six weeks at no cost,” she said. “She’s just great. She’s earned every dime. It’s worked out great for both of us. If I have a need for anyone else I’ll go right back to Georgia Works.”
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