To help combat soaring unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Baltimore Job Hunters Support Group (BJHSG) is seeking unemployed workers from the Greater Baltimore area for a new intensive incubator program titled TEAMWORKS (TMWKS). The Second Cohort of this 12-week virtual program will start on Monday, August 24, 2020. BJHSG is currently recruiting a total of 100 participants for the Summer and Fall Cohorts. The primary goal of the program is to prevent laid-off workers from becoming long term unemployed by quickly equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to make the best decisions about their lives and career paths. The program is free of charge to participants.
BJHSG will launch the second session of the TMWKS program for adults who have lost their jobs due to the COVID pandemic or other layoffs within the last 6 months. Preference will be given to Baltimore City residents and unemployed workers age 40+, but all are encouraged to apply. The TMWKS curriculum challenges participants to ReCharge, ReDesign, and ReBuild. The “Three Re’s” material is presented simultaneously throughout the 3-day (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), 11 hours per week program in a 100% virtual format. Each participant will be expected to complete class and homework assignments and meet with a career coach and a counselor weekly. In addition, participants will complete entrepreneurial training, a LinkedIn Bootcamp, a unique visioning workshop, and sessions on creativity, mindfulness, and maintaining good mental health.
To be considered for the TMWKS program, email firstname.lastname@example.org for an application link. Applications will be taken on a rolling basis until the class is filled and throughout the summer for the fall cohorts. Ideal candidates are people who are willing to read and complete classroom material and assignments; have the ability to take assessments before during and after the program has ended; participate and share in individual and group settings; willing to use LinkedIn and social media for job search and networking purposes; and are open to discussion, dialogue, and constructive feedback. Preference will be given to laid off workers in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and surrounding counties.
“The dedicated volunteers of BJHSG want to serve as an anchor for skilled but unmoored workers, using a ‘work in-between work model’ that redefines the job hunting process and how to successfully and skillfully navigate periods between employment,” says Janet Glover-Kerkvliet, BJHSG director, licensed therapist, and a 2019 Open Society Institute Baltimore Community Fellow. “While we include material on concrete job search skills—résumé writing, networking, and interviewing—we go well beyond these basics. We want participants to leave with a deeper understand of themselves and how to use that knowledge to chart their course for the future and ‘pivot’ when necessary. Even more importantly, we want our participants to become a community, because it is daunting to venture on a job search journey alone. We know from almost 10 years of experience that social, emotional, and psychological support makes all the difference,” she added.
A major goal of TMWKS is to prevent an increase in the number of long term unemployed workers, defined as job seekers who have been out of work for 6 months or more. Once long term unemployed, job seekers face hysteresis, a phenomenon in which long term unemployment (LTU) status decreases a worker’s employability permanently. The socioeconomic impacts of LTU are long lasting and include increased family strain and separation, depression, posttraumatic stress, suicidality, foreclosures, homelessness, and lowered academic performance of children. LTU erodes job seekers’ confidence, which impedes their willingness or ability to seek support and learn new job search skills.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 1.2 million Americans were long term unemployed, almost 20% of whom are age 45 and older. In addition, there were 4.2 million involuntary part time workers, defined as people who would have preferred full time work but were working part time because their hours had been reduced or they were unable to find full time jobs. Individuals marginally attached to the labor force, defined as those who are not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job in the prior 12 months, number 1.3 million. Discouraged job seekers, those who have stopped looking for work because they believe there are no jobs for them, numbered 337,000.
Due to the COVID pandemic and subsequent stay at home orders around the country, the unemployment rate rose to 14.7%--the highest rate since the Great Depression, and is currently at 10.2%. Experts also expect that, based on observations of how employers acted after the Great Recession, many laid off workers will remain unemployed for long periods. Employers will need to keep payroll costs low and will be slow to re-hire more highly compensated older workers. BJHSG will continue its mission to assist older long term unemployed workers. “There is a significant cost of underemployment and long-term unemployment for workers, their families, and Baltimore,” says Glover-Kerkvliet. “When someone is ‘downsized’ through no fault of their own, they experience shame, a loss of dignity, identity and self-respect. People over age 40 who are laid off are not making ends meet. Meanwhile, employers are missing out on the contributions of our most experienced industry subject matter experts,” she stated.
TMWKS is supported in part by grants from the Abell Foundation via the COVID-19 Response Funding Collaborative of Greater Baltimore, the Baltimore County COVID-19 Emergency Fund, the Warnock Foundation, the Mitzvah Fund for Good Deeds, and the Open Society Institute of Baltimore.
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