Apparently I was mistaken.
Here's the letter I sent to a few of our elected officials today regarding my experience with Pennsylvania Careerlink/Pennsylvania Workforce Development officials.
Grab a cup of coffee -- it's a long one.
* * *
Let me see if I have this right: The U.S. economy is in a tailspin, unemployment in America is on the rise, and the United States is either in or about to slide into a recession.
So maybe you can tell me -- an Allegheny County resident who’s been unemployed for TWO years:
Why, over the last five months, have I had to BEG Pennsylvania Careerlink (to no avail) for the job training assistance I need to become re-employed, while at the same time…
43 unemployed college graduates in Pennsylvania -- a whopping 39 of them in Berks County alone -- receive $8,000 each in federal job retraining money toward their masters degrees?
Worse, last year approximately 659 unemployed Southwestern Pennsylvanians received state/federal job training assistance. Of that number, a full 40 percent -- almost half -- of these individuals either did not complete training or were unemployed 9 months later.
Why then, am I -- a motivated, focused unemployed Pennsylvanian who has done the necessary legwork toward being re-employed in a lucrative and high-demand field -- being denied the job training assistance I need?
Here are the reasons I’m being given as to why I’m being denied job retraining assistance:
At the Careerlink office in Forest Hills, James Hann, supervisor of Intensive and Training Services, told me “there’s no money for job training for unemployed Pennsylvanians with college degrees,” which is obviously not true -- just ask the 43 people getting their master‘s degrees with Workforce Investment Act dollars.
Jim Hann opined I should have NO problem finding a job in Western Pennsylvania and offered me only Careerlink Intensive Services program, which includes offerings such as GED training, job hunt workshops and job counseling.
[I’ve done considerable career research on my own; my job-hunting Website features my résumé and samples of my work; and my blog (http://findingajobinpittsburgh.blogspot.com/) details the innovative ways I’ve tried to find a job in the Pittsburgh area. The steps I’ve taken on my own to find a job are far beyond what Careerlink Intensive Services can offer me.]
After I told James Hann that job training assistance would help me more than Careerlink Intensive Services, Mr. Hann turned the matter over to his boss, Dan Hiwiller.
Mr. Hiwiller also refused me retraining assistance, citing the ‘extraordinary costs‘ associated with teaching job skills to an eligible job seeker. But obviously none of the 43 Pennsylvanians getting their masters degrees with $8,000 each in WIA dollars were denied retraining funds due to ’extraordinary costs’.
I approached Careerlink five months ago, in November 2007, with a plan for innovative subsidized On-the-Job Training in the high-paying and fast-growing field of Internet Marketing. I even presented Careerlink officials with data on earnings and projected growth in this field: (http://www.talentzoo.com/interactivesalaryreport.pdf)
I proposed an OJT because NONE of Pennsylvania’s Certified TAA/WIA Training Programs/Providers offer training in this lucrative and expanding field.
I didn’t care which local Internet marketing firm I worked with; I just knew that such an on-the-job training program would get back me into the workforce AND given me the technological skills I need.
But Dan Hiwiller nixed my innovative OJT proposal. In addition to citing the ’extraordinary costs’ (see above), Mr. Hiwiller also said that I would have to WAIT for an employer to approach Careerlink to set up an Internet Marketing OJT program.
The fact is, in today’s economy, employers are not going to contact Careerlink to set up an OJT in Internet Marketing.
Employers can -- and will -- hire people right out of school or from other states who have the skills they want.
Further, why would ANY employer go through the hassle -- and it is a hassle -- of setting up an OJT with Careerlink unless there was a considerable incentive for them to do so?
This means that if I wait for an employer to approach Careerlink, I’m going to be waiting even longer than I already have been.
Ms. Enright, in her email to me, supported the decision of local Careerlink officials to deny me job training assistance.
Ms. Enright further justified the 43 unemployed Pennsylvanians getting their Master’s degrees with $8,000 each in WIA funds by stating that “each Local Workforce Investment Board establishes their own Individual Training Plan and On-the-Job Training (OJT) policies.”
Well, that’s pretty obvious -- and patently unfair.
So, depending on the Workforce Investment Area in which a Pennsylvania resident lives, an individual MAY get the training they need to become gainfully employed OR, like me, they may get NOTHING.
Which means that my request for job training assistance is denied, but in Berks County the unemployed get Master’s degrees on the taxpayer's dime.
In response to my concern about the large number of Berks County residents getting their Masters degrees with WIA dollars, Ms. Enright stated that “the Executive Director of the Berks County Workforce Investment Board stated that your information is not correct. No where near that number were funded. I believe he had 5 or maybe 8 get their masters degree.”
First off, it’s not MY data -- the information was taken directly from the Pennsylvania’s Workforce Development System Website.
Second, two weeks after Ms. Enright told me the data was supposed to be incorrect, Pennsylvania’s Workforce Development System Website STILL shows the same HUGE number of Berks County unemployed getting Master’s degree on the taxpayer’s dime.
Third, why are Berks County unemployed receiving Masters degrees at a rate anywhere from 3 to 12 times more than other unemployed Pennsylvanians?
I asked Ms. Enright to briefly detail the official procedure for determining who receives WIA job training assistance. But Ms. Enright stopped replying to my email messages almost two weeks ago.
In fact, I haven’t heard from her or anyone else at Careerlink or the state’s Workforce Development System since Feb 21 -- not even a ‘I’m working on an answer for you’ reply.
To add insult to injury, in Monroeville last week I ran into a male friend who graduated from Pitt five or six years ago and like me, is unemployed. Here’s what he said to me, when I asked how his job search was coming:
“I went to Careerlink’s downtown office last week and asked them about job training. They said they would test me, help me enroll, and then I would be all set.”
It sure doesn’t sound like my male friend had to BEG like a dog to get job retraining assistance.