In this economy, people are not unemployed because they don't have job skills. They are unemployed because there are no jobs they can work that pay a livable wage. Yet the County of Anoka is willing to pay upwards of $2,500 to train them on how to become a professional customer service representative. These hard working, fully trained individuals will receive beautiful certificates to hang at home. But they will not receive a job. There’s this thing called a recession going on, and they will wait for months to even get a call on their meticulously written resumes.
You see, having a job to work in is the key to employment. This may come as a surprise to the state of Minnesota, but all the training in the world does not do one bit of good unless there’s a job opening. So why not use our welfare dollars to create job openings?
The infrastructure is already in place. Make the small business option an approved work plan through the Diversionary Work Program, or MFIP. If some resources are redirected in this way, possibly supplemented with TARP money, Anoka County could be the test market for a revolution in economic recovery, as well as providing residents with a vehicle out of poverty. The current welfare programs already offer job training, as well as cash support and assistance with utility payments. However, they actually discourage people from working because as soon as people start making enough to be marginally above the poverty line, benefits get cut.
Take the top 10% of people in that class with good work history out of that DWP/MFIP training class. Teach them how to put together a business plan. Provide training in those areas of future economic growth. Prepare them to apply for TARP or economic recovery finance dollars. Support them with professional mentors through WomenVenture, or SCORE, as well as help them pay their bills during start up. Stop wasting money on companies that truly don’t contribute to the health of our economy, and use our social programs to train the next generation of business owners.
That money would come back to the state in the form of increased tax collection, as well as increased consumer spending. With a strong, small business based economy, Minnesota will be more resilient in the next down turn.