It initially appears that there are hundreds of work programs, which there aren’t, it just seems that way because many of the programs are duplicates and then the duplicate programs are subcontracted out to private corporations that care more about taking a fat check home than finding people jobs or creating vibrant economies with a high quality of living.

Taking a fat check home is nice, and there are various jobs where if you are good at your job, taking a fat check home is part of the employment. Social services and job placement should not be one of those places because job seekers are going to fall into one of two categories:

  1. Desperately need work to pay bills and not end up homeless.
  2. High Income Earner who doesn’t want to pay a 20% tax on first year’s salary to get a list of people hiring.

Middle Income Earners can end up falling into either category. For example, they’ve been out of work for 6 months, they reached a point in their career where it makes sense to seek a higher paying position, they are exploring switching industries.

Temp Agencies have pretty much taken the place of work programs. The only program that seems worthwhile is WIOA’s OJT (on the job training). OJT pays employers up to 50% (that’s half) of your wages for a period of time that can be two weeks to 6 months. It really depends on funding, how many people applied and qualified for the program and how much training you actually need to do your job properly.

In contrast, a temp agency will send you on a few crappy or short term jobs to see how you do and eventually start sending you out to contract-to-hire positions. During the temp to hire period lasts 520 hours as an industry standard, they pay you less than you would make if you applied directly. But often times, you don’t even have to interview, just take look nice and pass a drug test with the temp agency. Many of the jobs are entry level so interviewing sets them up for discrimination litigation since if the job is entry level, anyone with 0 experience can do it and that is why often times, you don’t interview with the employer. Even when you do interview, the employment agency is often showing your resume to several employers so you can setup multiple interviews when they check in with you or when you call to follow up and there is no uploading the same info to 100 different websites. In this sense the 520 hours is worth it. At one temp agency, the difference in pay between direct and agency hire was $1.25 so the agency would have made $650 off me or one weeks worth of pay. At another job, they pay difference was $7 so they would have made about $3,500 off me. Still not because it would be around 8% of the first years pay and it was a really nice job.

With Government work training programs, its up to you to do almost all the work. They help you a lot but they don’t setup any interviews for you and if you have to setup the interviews yourself, its very likely you wont get hired anywhere at all.

With the temp agencies, I was able to make enough money to pay most of my rent and buy interview clothes, food, etc. Temp agencies don’t qualify for OJT money though so if they send you on an interview, the employer will have to pay them their commission and you will have to take a pay cut for a few months but if you are a good employee and they are a good employer, it should work out fine once the 520 hours are over.

With OJT, you have to find the job and then let the employer know you have this grant money for them if they can train you on some aspects of the job  you are not familiar with and that is supposed to give them an incentive to hire you.

When I was in South Dakota and out of temp work, I decided I wanted to try and be a restaurant manager so I called a few places but no one was hiring for that position. But then, I saw an ad for a restaurant manager and I thought “I know how to do a lot of these responsibility tasks” but I was missing the skillset for 2 or 3 of the tasks and I thought OJT would be perfect. Unfortunately, I could not get a hold of the hiring manager and I think the process would work better if the Department of Labor would have sent a letter to the employers that I like and said “So and so would like to work for you, here is his skillset, here is what he lacks as far as skills go, we will pay you to train him in the skillset he lacks and we can send him for an interview to see if he is a good fit with your corporate culture”. That would have been perfect, but it didn’t work out that way unfortunately. I wish it had, I would of nailed that interview.

In Los Angeles, I signed up for GROW which my case worker tried to deny me but I was insistent and I know my civil rights as they relate to collecting welfare in Los Angeles so after some discussions with the supervisor, I was allowed entry into the GROW program. In the GROW program you have to attend the GROW program for 20 hours a week or work for 20 hours a week. I was able to obtain a retail job for 30 hours a week so I was excused from the GROW program but I still received my money for haircut, clothing and bus passes. They also gave me a coupon get 5 forklift certifications for $80 and the certifications were supposed to get me a $18 to $19 per hour job but when I called around to different forklift positions, they were paying $13 per hour. I decided not to waste my money since the minimum wage is Los Angeles was more than that.

The program I ended up enrolling in that got me the job is a pretty good program. There is a 300 hour training period where you go to work and get trained for a few months. It’s normally a 20 hour per week training and towards the end of your training period, you are supposed to apply for another job within the company or find work somewhere else. I applied within the company and transferred to another location. They also give you bonuses for staying employed past the training period which is a nice incentive.

Overall, I think OJT should function more like a temp agency where they send you out to interviews at companies you want to work for. I personally would not want to work at a Christian corporation because I cherish my 1st amendment right and I am not religious. So I think it would be awkward to work at a place where Christianity is the all encompassing corporate environment. Other than that, I am pretty open to working almost anywhere as long as it pays the bills and people aren’t running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I think OJT could have provided a list of 10 employers where they think I would fit in and I could of provided 10 ideal jobs I would enjoy doing and out of that list of 20 potential employers, they could have sent me on an interview for 3 or 4 employers and I’m sure I would have gotten along with at least 1 employer.

So far, I’m happy at my current employer but feel that OJT, Unemployment and the New Apprenticeship Program need to go hand in hand. I also feel that Temp Agencies can work seamlessly with the Department of Labor so that people with 0 experience, out of the workforce for a while, switching careers, etc. can do a bunch of temp jobs to see what they want to do for work before going with a more long term career plan with Department of Labor. I also feel temp agencies should do a lot more fast food and retail jobs because they are fun jobs with high turn over so they might take a smaller “per hour cut per employee” but they may end up with a consistent revenue stream from the high turn over.