Monday, September 20, 2010

From Stateline.Org: Georgia Works Expands

The Brainchild of Michael Thurmond, Georgia's Labor Commissioner, Georgia Works has expanded.

Started in 2003, the nationally recognized program allows jobless workers to become trainees for selected businesses at no cost to the employers. Starting today (Sept. 20), Georgia is more than doubling the number of people who can benefit from the program by opening it up to anyone without a job, not just those collecting unemployment checks, as originally designed.

Under the program, job seekers can spend 24 hours a week for up to six weeks in on-the-job training and continue to collect unemployment checks. If not receiving unemployment benefits, workers would agree to become unpaid trainees. In both cases, the state would provide each worker up to $600 to help defray job-related expenses such as transportation, child care and clothes.

It has been cited by two organizations — UWC Strategic Services on Unemployment & Workers’ Compensation and the American Institute for Full Employment — for its innovative approach to helping people get back to work. The program has been described in the Congressional Record as a model for other states; New Hampshire and Missouri created carbon copies of the program this year, and other states are considering it.

Thurmond, who is a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, says he decided to expand the program because a majority of jobless workers either don’t qualify for unemployment.

On the campaign trail with Thurmond, former President Bill Clinton praised him for “figuring out how to move people from unemployment to job placement at the very time when the country’s quickest route to putting people to work is simply to train people for the jobs that are open now.” Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi has also come out in support of Georgia Work$.

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