Job Training in Crossfire

March 4, 2011  |  

(AJC) — Carol Mullins is all for putting the nation’s fiscal house in order. But something else tops the Tyrone widow’s Washington wish list.  A job.  Mullins, jobless since June 2010, is one of the faces behind Georgia’s record unemployment rate. The state Labor Department reported Thursday that 10.4 percent of job-seeking Georgians couldn’t find work in January, unchanged from December and close to the rate a year earlier. The economic recovery seems to sail on by the 485,000 unemployed Georgians.  Mullins hopes her fortunes turn with the help of a federal job-training program that proponents say leads to full-time work for three of every four participants. She is wrapping up five months of computer training. IT is one of the state’s hottest growth industries.

Congress, though, is considering killing the $3.6 billion job training and assistance program. Georgia received $65.2 million in Workforce Investment Act (WIA) money last year, along with $88.3 million in federal stimulus money for job training. The labor department says the schooling helped thousands of Georgians get back to work.  “The people in Washington who are making these decisions have no idea what’s going on,” said Mullins, a fifty-something former special ed teacher in Fayette County. “I really don’t think they care.”  U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, a Republican from Marietta who voted to end the program in the House budget bill, empathizes, though he doubts the job-creation claims of WIA proponents.

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