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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Republicans Resist Available Government JOBs and Training

Republicans generally oppose government programs; they claim such programs make people less responsible for themselves, and more dependent on government to solve their problems and to provide funds as needed.  The GOP believes that most issues and problems and help should be addressed by and through the private sector.  Any help that desperate unemployed people might expect from government is being opposed or blocked by a party of ideologues who do not want any government-sponsored jobs program.  Indeed, this party is even reluctant to extend unemployment benefits for anyone out of work for more than 90 days. 

Of course, these same ideologues are often the first to feed at the government trough when they can benefit, or when they can benefit their home district or state which will ultimately benefit them when they campaign.  Their evident hypocrisy leaves the unemployed in a situation where no immediate help is forthcoming.  There will be no JOBs bill.  All that they will make available is their inadequate JOBs Plan, which gives unemployed persons one option: wait for private industry to start hiring again!

Amazingly, there are already several “job” or “job training” programs within various federal departments that could be used to help many people who are unemployed.  These programs could simply be expanded, without having to establish a new or tremendously expanded bureaucracy to oversee them.  Of course, instead of expanding them, the ideologues want to either consolidate them, under-fund them, or end them.

Corporation for National and Community Service

The Corporation for National and Community Service is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America, and also leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.  The long and painful Great Recession means there is an increasing need for poverty services at a time when there are decreasing resources for government and nonprofit organizations that provide these services. National service workers can play a role in addressing these disparities.

Some National Service programs create full-time positions that are—in most cases—jointly paid for by public and private resources.  National service programs are not designed as long-term career positions, but they have historically helped boost job creation by providing opportunities for difficult-to-employ youth, senior citizens and recent college graduates, while also building nonprofit organizations’ capacity to continue this important social service.

AmeriCorps State and National  The largest of AmeriCorps programs provides funds to local and national organizations and agencies committed to using national service to address critical community needs in education, public safety, health and the environment.    AmeriCorps State and National programs are open to U.S. citizens, nationals, or lawful permanent resident aliens age 17 and older. Members may serve full- or part-time over a period not to exceed 12 months.  Members receive a modest living allowance, student-loan forbearance, health coverage, and child care for those who qualify. After successfully completing their term of service, they receive an AmeriCorps Education Award of up to $5,350. This award can be used to pay off qualified student loans or to finance college, graduate school, or vocational training at eligible institutions.

AmeriCorps VISTA is the national service program designed specifically to fight poverty. VISTA has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for more than 40 years.  VISTA members commit to serve full-time for a year at a nonprofit organization or local government agency, working to fight illiteracy, improve health services, create businesses, strengthen community groups, and much more.
In return for their service, AmeriCorps VISTA members receive a modest living allowance and health benefits during their service, and have the option of receiving a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award or post-service stipend after completing their service.  It is open to both young people and mature adults.

AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) is a full-time, team-based residential program for men and women ages 18–24, assigned to one of five campuses.
Drawn from the successful models of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and the U.S. military, the mission of AmeriCorps NCCC is to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service.  AmeriCorps NCCC requires an intensive, 10-month commitment. Members receive a living allowance of approximately $4,000 for the 10 months of service (about $200 every two weeks before taxes), housing, meals, limited medical benefits, up to $400 a month for childcare, if necessary, member uniforms, and a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award upon successful completion of the program.

Foster Grandparent Program:  Foster Grandparents serve children with special needs as role models, mentors, and a friend. Serving at one of thousands of local organizations—including faith-based groups, Head Start Centers, schools, and other youth facilities—they help children learn to read, provide one-on-one tutoring, and guide children at a critical time in their lives. Foster Grandparents, age 55 and older, serve up to 40 hours per week. Some volunteers with a low income can qualify to earn a tax-free, hourly stipend of $2.65 per hour. They also receive transportation reimbursement, pre-service orientation, training from the organization where they serve, supplemental accident and liability insurance while on duty, plus a meal while on duty.

Senior Companion Program:  Similar to the Foster Grandparent Program, the SCP serves older adults with special needs, especially helping persons who are frail to remain in their own homes. Whether giving families or professional caregivers much-needed time off, running errands, or simply being a friend, Senior Companions make a difference that strengthens and helps preserve an individual’s independence.  SCs also join with thousands of others to help control the rising costs of health care.   SCs are age 55 and older, serve up to 40 hours per week, and receive a stipend (if qualified), and other benefits listed for FGP.

Find out more at: www.nationalservice.gov

Office of Personnel Management:

STEP provides part-time federal jobs to students that can last as little as one summer or as long as the duration of a college career. STEP positions are paid. The work does not have to be related to one’s field of study.  To be eligible applicant must be in high school, college, vocational school, or graduate school, and must be a U.S. citizen or national in most cases.  If the hiring agency’s appropriation act permits non-citizen employees, and the  client is eligible to work under U.S. immigration laws, participation is allowed.

SCEP allows applicant to gain experience working for the government in a job related to his field of study. Most positions are paid and some also provide academic credit towards a degree.  To participate in SCEP, the hiring agency must have a formal agreement with client’s educational institution. SCEP positions are available to undergraduate and graduate students. Must be a U.S. citizen or national in most cases. However, if eligible to work under U.S. immigration laws, non-citizen applicants can participate in the program.  Successful completion of 640 hours of work within the SCEP program means a person is eligible to be hired to a permanent position without going through the traditional hiring process. Recent additions to the program allow agencies to waive up to half of the required 640 hours for students with certain job-related experience. 

The Presidential Management Fellows Program (PMF) is a prestigious two year program which is designed to prepare a participant for upper-level management positions in the federal government. Must be in the final year of a graduate program and must receive a nomination from applicant’s school before being considered for the PMF program.
For more, see www.opm.gov

Government needs to fill medical jobs and maintain the staffs at 153 Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals and 745 community based clinics, plus there are health care job vacancies at many other federal agencies. When you include civilian medical personnel at military hospitals and administrative personnel that are needed under the new health care legislation, many more are needed.
For more, see http://federaljobs.net/healthcarejobsva.htm

Job Corps of America Job Corps is a free education and training program that helps young people learn a career, earn a high school diploma or GED, and find and keep a good job. For eligible young people at least 16 years of age that qualify as low income, Job Corps provides the all-around skills needed to succeed in a career and in life.  Transitioning from the military and starting a new career can be challenging.  Job Corps can help also help Vets through the VETS Demonstration Project.

Preparation for work in nontraditional fields is a major pathway out of poverty for women, but the only federal grant program specifically designed to train women for nontraditional occupations is the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO), which is 17 years old, funded at only $1 million, and focused entirely on construction.

A number of states are using short-time compensation programs to prevent layoffs and maintain employment. Short-time compensation, also called work sharing, is an option within the federal-state UI system that provides some employers with an alternative to layoffs. Employers can reduce work hours instead of laying people off, and workers can collect partial UI benefits to help make up for lost wages. Seventeen states have short-time compensation programs. Some of these states have experienced a dramatic increase in the program’s use.

Congress should consider appropriating additional funds into the WIA Title I youth program to allow the extension of jobs and supports beyond summer for out of school youth ages 16 to 24. Congress should also consider an additional appropriation to reactivate Youth Opportunity (YO) Grants that are already authorized in the WIA legislation. These grants direct funding to areas of concentrated poverty to implement education, training and employment activities directed at getting disconnected youth connected to pathways to employment. 

Enough for now.  Republicans in Congress are simply short-sighted (or myopic) because of their so-called principles.  There are plenty of ways they could get jobs to people immediately, but they continue to resist, unsympathetic to the very basic needs of real people.  More next time on alternative approaches to this problem of JOBS.