Education Career Services

October 14, 2009

Working for Free…a Georgian Experiment

Unemployed and looking for a job?  Good news, jobs are out there!  Only one catch, there is no pay.

According to an Intelligence Report from (October 11, 2009 page 6), the unemployed throughout the state of Georgia are “working without a salary in auditions for paying gigs.”  Naturally, I was hooked on the read and continued as, at first, if felt this was a rather brilliant idea.  An hour or so later, and after my morning cup of tea, I am not so optimistic the consequences of such a program will all be beneficial.

But first, a quick review (for those who have not read the article).  Under the Georgia Works program, jobless citizens work part-time for up to six weeks at businesses with job openings.  Let’s begin by highlighting the one very important element: you guessed it, a majority of individuals who took part in this program and worked part-time for a business also under this program received an offer to work permanently (58% of participants).  Pretty impressive!

So far so good?  Enough of the sugar-coating for a moment.  If an individual is working for free while unemployed, how will they be able to effectively search for a career of their choice?  Additionally, what are the rules the business owner must follow?  Does this program equate to a college internship?  On note, will this program become mandatory for all unemployed individuals?  In other words, if I suddenly became unemployed, would I be forced to work for free in order to receive benefits?  On the surface, this seems a tad unfair….or is it?

According to the article, 17 states (besides Georgia) have asked about starting similar programs.  The article concludes with the following quote from Andrew Stettner of the National Employment Law Project: “the purpose of unemployment ought to be to enable people to search for suitable work, not to give employers free labor.” 

An interesting article and insight into the world of politics….just keeping you in the loop.

Have a different opinion?  We’d love to hear it!

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110


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