Huffington Post Blog by Jean Michel Giraud
A leading voice in the effort to combat homelessness with innovative solutions, Jean Michel has been been a contributor for the Huffington Post for since 2012.
Joblessness and homelessness go hand in hand for so many in our country.
This is why Employment First (AKA Job First) makes sense for so many disconnected people out there who are having a hard time moving forward with their job searches as they receive assistance from traditional vocational programs.
Employment First programs are effective because they assume employability, meaning that they look to everybody as being employable. The notion that everybody has a skill-set is empowering and helps build self-confidence in applicants who have been fighting an uphill battle from street, shelter and double-up situations, none of which is conducive to a successful job search.
In Employment First, the financial situation is stabilized to the best of the program’s ability from the beginning so the person can look beyond the immediate crisis and put more energy toward the search. Soft-skills training is expedited and applicants meet employers as soon as possible.
In traditional programs, the focus is on teaching employment skills. This takes time. The first interview can take weeks or months. As a result, sizeable resources are extended and participants spend a lot of time in classes they could do without as Employment First outcomes show for a large number of the job seekers we meet.
Imagine being “taught” how to work when you have previous experience in the workplace just because your financial circumstances have made you homeless. The message is simply disempowering.
Friendship Place developed AimHire, our Employment First Program, in the aftermath of the 2008 crisis. In meetings everywhere, people were saying there were no jobs and no affordable housing left. As it turned, there were jobs but you had to get really good at helping people get them.
In the last five years, AimHire has placed well over 500 people in jobs ranging from service positions to IT …the program even placed an attorney. The housing resources have come from relationships we have developed with private landlords. These relationships have proven long lasting for the most part and have even helped us launch a Rapid Rehousing Program.
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