Georgia Works: Good idea or not?

With many states running out of unemployment funds and desperate for ideas, the Georgia Works program is gaining national attention, reports AJC writer Tammy Joyner.

The idea is simple: Pair people collecting unemployment benefits with a company at no cost to the employer. The worker continues to get an unemployment check plus a small stipend, as well as job training. It’s hoped that will lead to full-time employment at the company or elsewhere.

Since it began seven years ago, nearly 8,000 people have completed the program, with about half finding full-time work afterward.

The program pays up to $330 in unemployment a week for six weeks of training, plus a weekly stipend of about $100 to help with gas, transportation and other incidentals.

But, Joyner reports, some criticism has emerged.

Some unemployed workers view the training program as little more than “slave labor”: It has them working for slightly more than their unemployment pay. They’re disillusioned to find that full-time work after training isn’t guaranteed, Joyner writes.

Some policy analysts, meanwhile, question whether it might circumvent federal labor laws. And some small business owners said they’d had trouble getting and keeping trainees through Georgia Works.

Have you had any experience with the program? What happened?

If you haven’t had direct experience, what’s your opinion — good idea or not?

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43 comments Add your comment

Morrus

April 26th, 2010
8:32 am

Vote out the incumbents and start over

James

April 26th, 2010
8:39 am

The company that layed me off tried to get me back through Georgia Works. Talk about ass holes. I had worked for them for 5 years, no additionaly training was needed. They just wanted free labor and a tax cut. I wish I could name the compnay but saddly I would go back if they offered me a job. It does not look good from this side of the fence.

droopydawg

April 26th, 2010
8:46 am

I do not like the idea of hooking business up with free labor. However, I do think it is of great benefit to have people collecting unemployment, particularly long-term benefits, to work. My guess is that many would prefer to work than to sit around, but the government should have them doing public works projects like during the new deal, not providing free labor for business.

Meme

April 26th, 2010
8:50 am

I don’t think the labor is free. They are paying a small stipend but they are also training people. Some of the people get pissed because they are not given a $100K job when the training is over.

Mike

April 26th, 2010
8:51 am

I was all set to say that I think this is a great program, but after reading droopydawg’s comment I have changed my mind and have to honestly say his/her idea is much better. There are so many things that need to be fixed/addressed around Atlanta and the rest of the state, so why not get the unemployed people working on them…and I am not referring to digging ditches, but rather some kind of work/training that could potentially lead to future employment while at the same time improving the public sector.

And James I think you should report that company to one of the local news stations because if that’s not illegal then its at least super tacky of that company.

Rob Vinson

April 26th, 2010
8:54 am

I like it. It makes people work for receiving their money / handout. This “entitlement” mentality has to stop. People should have to work, to earn their way, to be able to live and function in society. If they don’t like it, then cut off their “entitlement,” and let them fend for themselves.

Van Jones

April 26th, 2010
9:28 am

For how many weeks can one receive unemployment check? It seems like it used to be something like 13 weeks but I believe it’s much longer now.

SAR

April 26th, 2010
9:32 am

@RobVinson: Don’t get me started!! I would still be working and keeping up good credit and PAYING TAXES but for the fact that some sleezy bankers and others decided to loot the American system with trash home loans. Furthermore, their greedy bums were sending out credit card invitations to children with no payment history (college kids) and illegals in the country via law violation! TELL ME who the flip is ENTITLED? And when it all comes crashing down on them, we lose OUR jobs, we lose OUR homes, we lose OUR good credit names. They OWE us MORE than Unemployment!

TnGelding

April 26th, 2010
9:34 am

Great idea, legal or not. It keeps you busy and prevents depression. So many unemployed lose there self esteem and later integrity. Nothing is more rewarding than a hard day’s work.

TnGelding

April 26th, 2010
9:36 am

Mike

April 26th, 2010
8:51 am

Why can’t there be multiple approaches?

Rob

April 26th, 2010
9:38 am

You MUST open your mind. If you are employed, you are putting money into an unemployment pool. This is a fact. So if you’re ever laid off, you can draw from that.

Fly

April 26th, 2010
9:39 am

Nothing like indentured as a JOBS fix. Most if not all the jobs are in the $8 dollar range. And how does this save money for the UI program? The only entity this benefits is the corporations who use this service as they get $2000 per employee, which is akin to free labor for 6 weeks.

B. Grace

April 26th, 2010
9:39 am

Rob Vinson – I haved worked and earned the money I get from unemployment! Don’t forget it was taken out of every paycheck I’ve worked for. People shouldn’t have to work for something that they’ve worked for and put into unemployment. If that’s the case, it shouldn’t be their money. It should be returned back to us freely because we put into it every payday!

TnGelding

April 26th, 2010
9:45 am

Rob

April 26th, 2010
9:38 am

The employer pays the tax for unemployment compensation.

RaleighDawg

April 26th, 2010
9:48 am

Technically, it’s the employer (not the employee) who pays into unemployment.

MISSSEY

April 26th, 2010
9:57 am

@Rob: I guess we are “entitlement servants”. LOL!!!! Rob, I hope that your “GOOD JOB” maintains ALL of your needs(Physical and mental), so that you can go to work, in order to maintain self esteem/integrity according to TnGelding. LOL!!! Wow!! You can tell those who THINK
THEY HAVE “GOOD JOBS” and REALLY believe that their jobs, physical/mental health will last forever!!! Keep dreaming!! And, for those, that are criticizing the unemployed, have you tried being unemployed recently?? Try it, you may like it. Let me add, at this time, the unemployed doesn’t need any negatives about work, self-esteem, integrity, etc. WE NEED A JOB!!! Unemployment is a domino effect for EVERYONE. So, BE NICE and KIND to EVERYONE at this difficult time. Message to the unemployed: HOLD ON!!!

Samantha

April 26th, 2010
10:00 am

I have had experience working with this program. Several years ago after I lost my job I worked for DeKalb County Courts in the DA’s office and they used me! I worked my behind off and before I accepted this position for a stipend that was bareley above my unemployment benifits pay I was told that the ONLY companies that were hiring people to work with them temporarily have an open position and that they will probably hire me full time. The DeKalb County’s D.A.’s office HAD NO INTENTIONS of hiring me. They just used me to get their work load down. I worked as a legal secretary! Once I found out that they did not have any open positions and had no intentions on hiring me I quit and complained to the DeKalb County Unemployment office. That was a complete waste of my time, money and resources. At the same time my unemployment benifits were running out. I could have worked for an honest company that was actually looking to hire me. The DA’s office had viewed my resume’ BEFORE calling me in for an interview to work with them. I never found out what happend with my complaint. I eventually ran completely out of unemployment insurance and I wasted 6 weeks at this job! I could have been working with another company who actually wanted to hire me. I also worked with another company and they were looking for an office manager – so they said – but the pay was only for $10 an hour! That is insane…I also quit there because they could never give me an answer as to when they were going to hire me. I eventually ended up getting a job with another company that was NOT thru this program. I continued pursuing other jobs while working for free for these other companies.

To make a long story short – I feel and believe that the GA Dept. of Labor need to make these companies held accountable for doing things like this. They already know before they hire someone on a temporary basis that they are supposed to have job openings for that position. PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN DEKLAB COUNTY PLEASE BE AWARE OF THEM TELLING YOU THAT IF YOU WORKED IN THE COUNTY THAT YOU MAY GET THAT VERY JOB THAT YOU ARE NOT GETTING PAID FOR!!! They will tell you this story at the unemployment office how the DeKalb County court house hired someone just like you in their court house on a temporary basis and how that person ‘allegedly’ was hired to work with them on a full-time basis 2 weeks later. IT’S A SCAM AND IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL…IT IS A SLAVERY!!! DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!!! KEEP LOOKING FOR A JOB ON YOUR OWN AND DON’T BELIEVE THAT THEY WILL HIRE YOU BECAUSE 9 TIMES OUT OF 10 THEY ARE ONLY OUT FOR FREE LABOR AND WILL B.S. AROUND ABOUT HIRING YOU IF YOU ASK THEM!!! DON’T FALL FOR IT!!!

Chillii

April 26th, 2010
10:00 am

For people who think that because others are receiving unemployment, they are undeserving and just sitting around doing nothing. Remember, unemployment is based on the last two years of your salary and if you have worked for over 15 years at a job and let go due to the economy or for whatever reason, you have a right to receive unemployment; it is a shame that narrow-minded people have this belief that people want to depend on the govt’ for assistance; i would even work as a volunteer to improve the public sector; many people out of work are professional, hard working and even continuing their education (which is another requirement to receive unemployment); so I am sick and tired of narrow-minded, self-righteous people who have not experienced severe lost) because some are still benefiting from unemployment); nobody talks about the billions and billions of dollars wasted on unnecessary agendas (war, war, war, and war, bank scandals) and who pays for it, the U.S. citizens.
I have paid for every penny that I receive from unemployment. Then you have to deal with managers and supervisors that know jobs are scarce and try to treat their employees like dirt because they know the next person is waiting at the door. I would rather continue my education while this ugly economy and judgmental society realizes that everyone should be in this to improve our country, not judge people or their govt.

FOUL

April 26th, 2010
10:04 am

It is interesting that Georgia Works has been around a long time. Now that Thurmond announces his candidacy for the Senate, it becomes front page news. Way to go AJC. Which side are you on?

LostinCobb

April 26th, 2010
10:05 am

@Raleighdawg

Yes, they pay the UI taxes with money they could have been paying to you in higher salary/wages. So we’re still paying the UI taxes. Just not directly.

Samantha

April 26th, 2010
10:05 am

Sorry about the typos…:)

Samantha

April 26th, 2010
10:12 am

When I was unemployed it was so hard to even get an interview. I must have put in at least 300+ applications and resume’s and I ONLY received 3 interviews! I never stopped looking for a job. I ran COMPLETELY out of unemployment insurance BEFORE I FINALLY was hired to work for a company. So for those of you that’s out there looking for work..keep your head up and keep trying. You will eventually get a job. Please try your best not to stress over it. I do know from experience that it’s much easier said than done; but try to relax and don’t seem too anxious when they interview you. Please note that MOST employers know within the first 15 seconds after meeting you and before the interview actually starts if they are interested in hiring you or not. For Women please don’t wear too much perfume or colonge. Actually you probably should not wear perfume at all and natural tone makeup. Men please do not over do it with the cologne. :) It will all work out. Just pray and remain positive. Remember it’s the things that a person does not say with his or her mouth that speaks the loudest. For example if you are too anxious in an interview they will feel that vibe coming from you. When I got the job I now have I went into the interview with an ‘I don’t care’ attitude and was offered the job the very next day! So please sharpen up your skills while you are job searching. Pray and believe that one day you will be employed again. DON’T hang around negative people! Only hang around positive people! :) I wish you all the best of God’s blessings :) .

Tired of the complaint

April 26th, 2010
10:22 am

Fact # 1 – Georgia Work$ is VOLUNTARY, if you don’t want to participate you don’t have to.

Fact # 2 – Samantha didn’t get a job, but 4,000 other people did. That means 4,000 people are now working because of GA Work$, earning a full-time salary.

What’s to complain about… the proof is in the pudding.

One more time, it is V-O-L-U-N-T-A-R-Y!

the truth

April 26th, 2010
10:23 am

As I understand it, Georgia Works is a VOLUNTARY program. It’s promoted as such and individuals both employer and unemployed worker benefit from the initiative. For those individuals that would rather sit home and wait till their unemployment benefits run out that’s on them. I believe it is a win-win situation. However, there will always be someone that doesn’t play by the rules and try and take advantage of a great situation. And @Foul, the program was publicized by Georgia Department of Labor since its inception and I’m sure the reason why the AJC IS NOW RE-PUBLICIZING IT IS BECAUSE THE SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM HAS BEEN LAUNCHED NATIONALLY! It’s not for everyone but to get people back to work as quickly as possible while learning additional skills makes me feel good about the program.

GeorgiaGirl

April 26th, 2010
10:24 am

There is no doubt that there are always people who are looking for freebies on both sides of the aisle. However, as a small business owner (attorney), I think this is a very valuable program. I like the idea of training up someone who is unemployed and working with them to develop skills they might not otherwise possess. I also pay very well. However, based on previous experience, it is very helpful to have the opportunity to see how we fit together. If it does not work and develop into a full-time position, then I would hope that in our time together, the person would have at least developed some new skills. I take this program very seriously and would only take on someone with the plan of hiring them. But I’ll tell you what will absolutely prevent me from taking anyone on at all – too much government interference in why I did not hire them as FTEs. What happens if the person and I are just not a good fit? The objective of the program is to give people an opportunity to develop new contacts and to build new skills. I open the doors of my business to you, but you have to meet me half way.

Taxpayer

April 26th, 2010
10:32 am

Thanks tired of the complaint. Slavery is forced servitude. Georgia Works is voluntary, then by definition it cannot equal slavery.

Exchequer

April 26th, 2010
10:52 am

I attempted to integrate a Georgia Works training program into my previous employer’s NE GA subsidiary as a first step to develop formal, documented, training programs with post training assessment. Interestingly enough, the ISO manual stated that this documentation existed; however, in 3 successive annual ISO audits, the auditor never identified it as as deficiency. It became readily apparent that Manufacturing was willing to use the labor and take the tax credit but was unwilling to document any training objectives for the Georgia Works candidates. The potential for abuse of this program is real.

Mr. Unger needs to validate his quoted figures of 330 per week and the 100 weekly stipend. Any hourly worker is limited to their unemployment compensation weekly benefit amount and can be legally worked 3, 8 hour shifts for a maximum weekly work load of 24 hours. Unfortunately, the potential for abuse exists due to the Georgia Department of Labor’s failure to require a documented training regimen prior to worker placement and a post completion audit and assessment for each work candidate as a prerequisite for the company qualifying for ANY tax credit associated with the program.

Exchequer

April 26th, 2010
10:55 am

To Taxpayer @ 10:32 am

Voluntary yes – up to the point that the candidate is instructed that regardless of the 24 hour per week limit – certain work must be finished before leaving or it could negatively impact their potential assessment and recommendation for further compensated employment.

MISSSEY

April 26th, 2010
11:05 am

@ Samantha:Thanks!! I just realized that there are some people that really care. Maybe, you should create a program. LOL!!! I appreciate your comments.

The Georgia Works program can and will be a win-win for everyone. Perhaps, with the criticisms, complaints and comments, the Georgia Works program should be reviewed, since it’s probably being applied more than ever. Being negative about this program is not helping anyone, let’s ALL work together and proceed towards the unemployed returning to work. @GeorgiaGirl: Thanks for your insight as a business owner.

Everyone, have a productive day!

Samantha

April 26th, 2010
11:10 am

Tired of the complaint…IF YOU WOULD READ YOU IDIOT YOU WILL SEE THAT I DID GET A JOB ELSEWHERE…THIS PROGRAM DOES NOT WORK FOR THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE! SO BEFORE YOU TRY TO SAY NEGATIVE THINGS ABOUT PEOPLE YOU NEED TO GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!!!

SAR

April 26th, 2010
11:15 am

First off…$100 stipend should be a violation of Federal Law. The Federal Minimum Wage is presently $7.25 x 40hrs = $290…NOT $100. No company should be getting an employee for LESS than the minimum wage. PERIOD!!

Nothing like OUR OWN GOVERNMENT helping companies break the law!! And pay us less than what we’re suppose to be earning under Federal Law!!!

Can I hear an “AMEN” my Brothers and Sisters???
Unemployment dollars should not count ONE IOTA toward the meeting of Federal Minimum Wage Laws. We do not pay taxes in order that we can subsidize someone’s company with employees. Give ME a company!! No one subsidized my friend’s restaurant that went under earlier this year!

SAR

April 26th, 2010
11:21 am

Okay…it’s 24 hours they’re limited to work the employee. Then, that is $174 under the Federal Minimum Wage. And the Federal government should be asking about it too! After all, Nancy and Barack can’t get their hands on it IF You don’t get paid it!

the truth

April 26th, 2010
11:27 am

There is NO TAX CREDIT ASSOCIATED WITH GEORGIA WORKS! You are evidently confusing this program with somehing entirely different. In addition, this is training–not a job. If you’re unemployed, you get additional compensation for the training program. Again, there may be individuals that take advantage–but it is, what it is–training. The employer may or may not hire the individual, however the trainee is provided with a certificate indicating they have been trained by the employer. I read it for myself and know one young lady that personally went through the program and is now working–now I wish folks will read and comprehend the full intent of the program. http://www.dol.state.ga.us/spotlight/sp_georgia_works.htm

SAR

April 26th, 2010
12:21 pm

@the truth: First …just because people don’t take advantage of it…does not NECESSARILY MEAN that they’d “rather” stay home and collect unemployment.

Second…just because the AJC decides to do a story about it …does not NECESSARILY follow that it’s been “SUCCESSFULLY” rolled out “NATIONALLY”…NO…maybe they’ve sat there in an editorial meeting and said, “look at this…does something stink here? Maybe we should put it out there and see what John and Jane Q public will say about it…what have their experiences actually been. Let’s go fish!”

Third…What they’ve actually created here is a “Temp To Perm” staffing agency that competes with the Private Staffing Agencies out there that do this sort of thing.

PERSONALLY…I THINK THEY ALL stink…it’s just another roadblock between a human seeking work and the employer they need to hire them. It prevents us from being able to walk in and ask for a job. And what REALLY stinks about it is these agencies were set up to help employers keep from discrimination laws…everytime they look at a resume with “minority” checked on what OUGHT TO BE illegal questions on these job boards, they can PAT THEMSELVES ON THE BACK, and cover their arses…that they gave a sniff at a minority candidtate.

PERIOD.

Samantha

April 26th, 2010
1:24 pm

the truth…NO everyone did not receive a certificate. I never received one and I did a great job. So that’s not true. Unless a person has ACTUALLY experienced this for themselves; what they have to say is null and void. I experienced it and it is NOT a good thing…it’s free labor!

Samantha

April 26th, 2010
1:26 pm

What the program is ’supposed’ to do and what is does are two totally different things. I know what it is ’supposed’ to do. The problem is the companies, not the GDOL. I do believe that after a person files a complaint against a company that they should investigate it thouroughly and NOT allow that company to benefit from unemployed people anymore.

SAR

April 26th, 2010
1:55 pm

The DOL, at the state and federal levels, need to start addressing the issue of having to apply online for jobs. There are many problems that are glaringly obvious now that this process has been able to play out for some time. An applicant should be able to complete their information on ONE WEBSITE…uploading all of their information, personal, work history, resume and cover letters, etc. THEN, they should be able to load that onto EVERY KIND OF JOB WEBSITE….whether it’s a job board like CareerBuilder, or a company’s website, or a temp agency site…ALL OF THEM should be programmed to receive the information in ONE FORMAT. There is NOTHING high tech about having to complete a zillion different online pages, in as many different formats.

Also, these questions that have to do with diversity should be eliminated. Furthermore, excuses of getting viruses and therefore refusing certain resumes because of fear of that should be addressed.

These are the kinds of issues that our DOL’s should be working on for US. Stop treating the unemployed like we’re some kind of prison camp occupants…WE are the reason they are here, and we deserve to be SERVED.

Michael

April 26th, 2010
3:43 pm

Evidently once the state’s unemployment insurance reserves run out the federal government starts sending the checks. The labor commissioner said this on the radio this past Saturday. Then I suppose the state becomes indebted to the federal government for the amount of any checks sent. And of course the federal government just prints money whenever it needs it.

Mary

April 26th, 2010
4:57 pm

I can’t believe anyone would have a problem with this program. If you’re unemployed and looking for work, it would be great to get some on the job training and also have something to do to stay busy and feel productive until you find a permanent job. And anyone calling this slave labor is just an idiot. It’s voluntary and it provides new work experience as well as a productive day (instead of sitting on your azz at home).

Exchequer

April 26th, 2010
6:11 pm

Samantha is correct. The Employer – Trainer is NOT required to provide ANY certification of training nor are they required to provide any quantitative or qualitative assessment of work completed by the trainee.

Mary – people don’t want to feel productive – they need to be productive. As for your insight that this program provides new work experience as well as a productive day – I will say only this: employers can prescreen candidates for existing skills, use those skills until the time period is up, and roll that individual for another screened trainee. If you think it isn’t happening then you must really think healthcare costs are going to go down along with our tax bills.

SharonJ

April 26th, 2010
11:35 pm

It’s better than sitting at home DOING NOTHING and letting your mind, skills and attitude go to MUSH. Does that offend our sense of entitlement?? This gives you another good networking option AND helps you maintain the employed mindset. I didn’t do this program specifically, but I found another one through the GDOL, and I appreciate it. But then again, I was taught to appreciate people’s (or organizations’) efforts on my behalf, so perhaps my “entitlement gene” isn’t functioning.

Jaime Green

May 3rd, 2010
9:26 pm

First and foremost, this program is optional. This means one can elect to not participate. Stop the complaining and over thinking the program that’s attempting to equip unemployed GA residence with skills to obtain employment. 85% people are hired as a result of who they know and through networking while the remaining 15% obtain jobs based on their skill set.

Although you will not be getting financial compensation; you will be compensated with networking opportunities and a new skill set or keeping your existing skill set fresh during your job search.

This is not slavery. I do not agree that trainees should be limited to public administration work throughout Atlanta. Everyone is not mentally and/or physically equipped for that area. This would also be a waste of time if the trainee is not seeking to enter into this field, industry, or career path.

Sometimes, we have to humble ourselves and perform the least desirable tasks in order to create or increase the probability of landing the career or the skill set we desire. There are many successful executives that started their careers as unpaid interns.

You have plenty of time on your hands. Remember…You’re unemployed.

Opinionated

May 4th, 2010
7:02 pm

Special thank you to my sister through Christ SAMANTHA for your words of encouragement.

I was thinking about going through with this program and I am glad that I found this article and was able to read someone’s opinion who ACTUALLY went through the program and PERSONALLY experiences the feelings of being unemployed. So thank you SAMANTHA, SAR, and Exchequer. Unfortunately other people always have their opinions on their high and mighty horses who aren’t going through anything and want to tell other people what they should and should not be doing. Obviously you aren’t a compassionate individual and quick to judge but I wonder how you would feel if you were in the same situation?????? You all need to be more open minded, every situation is not the same if you look at the statistics, only about 48% of people get the job. That’s why I wanted to see what people experiences were, so I could consider the reality of what was actually going on than what the Dept. Of Labor was trying to sell me. They don’t care that even if you are offered a job that still isn’t helping you meet your needs, then it’s kind of like it’s a waste of your time. Anything with the government is shady.
What seems to really be going on with truth and tired of complaint is that your jealous, cause you wish you weren’t working right now. Well I’m here to tell you that this is really not that fun. You should really encourage people in this tough situation and offer words of encouragement like my sister SAMANTHA.