For Employers, a Newfound Labor Pool: Welfare With AM-Rethinking Welfare I, Bjt
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) _ ″Wanted: Unskilled workers. Low wages. Will train. Prefer welfare recipients.″
This isn’t a real help-wanted ad, but it’s not far from the truth. This county’s innovative jobs program, GAIN, has aggressively marketed its welfare recipients to employers, and many now use the welfare system as a virtual job agency.
″I use it as one of my top recruitment tools, and I must say, it’s changed my opinion of welfare recipients,″ said Leann Trott, the human resources director at Riverside’s Mission Inn, a graceful, 90-year-old Spanish-style hotel.
GAIN managers call employers constantly looking for job tips, and welfare officials belong to 14 chambers of commerce in cities throughout the county. One is the president of a chamber.
″We just go the extra mile, because we want to establish that relationship with employers,″ said GAIN’s program manager, Marilyn Kuhlman. ″And we have accounts that call us all the time.″
Ms. Trott has hired GAIN participants as stewards, housekeepers, kitchen workers, as a telephone operator and a front desk attendant. Most start at about $5 an hour, and can advance to as much as $12 an hour.
″The ones who come in off the GAIN program are hard workers, and they want to work and get off welfare,″ Ms. Trott said.
Paul Gadzinski, the general manager of Cross County Wireless Cable, a cable television company serving parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, estimates that half his new hires come from GAIN.
″I would say it’s as good or better than hiring off the street,″ he said. ″The people that they send me are people who really want to work.″