Recruiting from Welfare to Work Programs

“We are creatures of habit and many people, recruiters included, are risk averse?” (from Gately@compuserve.com July 1, 1998 ). Recruiters often tap the same sources over and over again, yet there are many untapped groups of people with the aptitude to do a job, but because they are not cut of the standard broadcloth cotton with the button down collar, have never been given the opportunity-this is changing. Individuals enrolled in “Welfare to Work” programs are stigmatized by the common notion that they are lazy, have no desire to work, are uneducated and besides would rather be on public assistance anyway. What SOME homeless people want is to find work that is satisfying, and will bring in an income that is livable. For a multitude of reasons-illness, layoffs, divorce, they find themselves n a position they never dreamt of. They have skills, experience and above all a burning desire to be given a chance. SOME homeless people do not have the requisite skills, but are able and willing to be trained and educated. Despite the stigma attached to the welfare to work program, the reality is that many people in the program have the aptitude, experience or the ability to perform well in the workplace. Recruiters must begin to give serious consideration to the hiring of welfare recipients following the model that corporations are defining. Smith Barney has hired 27 single parents referred by a program called Wildcat Services. Workers spend 16 weeks as interns under mentors at Smith Barney. Cablevision linked up with South Bronx Overall Development Corporation and out of the 130 cable installers hired over the past four years 82% are still employed. United Airlines plans to hire 400 welfare recipients in slots from reservation clerks to cabin cleaners this year. Packard Bell hired nearly 1,200 workers from a city job program and trained them on everything from team building to English as a second language. The list goes on an on. A successful recruiter will dare to risk looking in unusual places to find an eager and willing work force, and more so to open up a door for them. Recruiters need to follow what the major corporations are doing – tap the welfare to work population. The risk has already proven to be well worth the effort.

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Doreen D. Gibbs is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) experienced in developing programs to assist individuals with disabilities to return to work. She trains potential employers in the recruiting, training, placement and support of chronically underemployed and undeserved populations. As the founder of G & G Geriatric and Disability Care Management, Inc., she provides ongoing technical assistance to companies, and serves as a liaison between the for profit and for profit communities in the formation of successful partnerships.

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