More than 12 million Americans are out of work, according to the U.S.
Department of Labor.
Looking for a job similar to the one that was lost can be a frustrating
and futile exercise, but an employment program in the northeastern state
of New Hampshire gives the unemployed a chance to try out jobs they
hadn’t considered before.
Carol Nyber lost her job at an electronics manufacturing company last
year. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a new experience; she's been laid off
several times over the past 20 years.
“I keep jumping back and forth. It’s a horrible thing to go through,"
she says. "You’re worried about your bills. Are you going to be able to
pay your rent, or your mortgage if you own a house?”
While looking for a new job, Nyber came across the Return to Work
initiative, a program run by New Hampshire’s Department of Employment
“It allowed people to find a training opportunity with an employer,”
says Keith Badger, the program’s coordinator. “They could train up to 24
hours a week with a particular employer for up to six weeks.”
Return to Work sets up a ‘win-win’ situation, according to Badger.
Workers continue to receive unemployment benefits during the training
period while prospective employers have a chance to evaluate potential
employees - on the job - at no cost.
“The individual is not under any obligation to the employer. The
employer is not under any obligation to the individual, outside of the
actual training," he says. "So the employer doesn’t guarantee the
individual a job at the end of the training period, and if the
individual, in the middle of the training, decides that this is just not
working for them, they can leave the training.”
Carol Nyber doesn’t plan to leave. In fact, she hoping for a job offer
once she completes her training with Electropac, an electronics
“I worked here about two-and-a-half years ago," she says. "It’s quite
different. Last time, I was here as an inspector. Now I’m operating a
Electropac is one of more than 400 businesses around the state that have
joined the Return to Work program. The chance to evaluate job seekers
during the training period helps the company identify the best people
for the job.
“In addition to the various skills and ability to do the job, we also
look for the person who takes responsibility for the job that they're
performing," says Raymond Boissoneau, president of Electropac. "It’s
more than just a repetitive type job. The type of product we make
requires somebody who looks at doing a function and the ability to - if
they see something wrong - stopping it and bringing it to their team
leader. So it requires that little added concern and care of what you’re
Lisa Eaton, who was laid off from a manufacturing marketing job more
than a year ago, was hired by a real estate company after completing the
“I felt it was a smooth transition," she says."I never felt that it was
an unpleasant challenge. It’s a positive challenge to learn new skills
in a new industry.”
She credits the Return to Work program with allowing her to change
“I was not satisfied in the role that I had with my prior employer,"
Eaton says. "I had been thinking about finding another job for a long
time and I just never got around to it. You know how you kind of live
with dissatisfaction. So it was a good, and probably needed, push to
find something better suited to me and my personality and what I enjoy.”
boss, Giovanni Verani, president and co-owner of Prudential Verani
Realty, wasn't concerned about hiring someone with no previous
experience in his field.
“She had to get a real estate license, first of all. She did everything
she needed to do to get a license," Verani says. "She was like a sponge
when she first came in. She absorbed the industry. She came up to speed
really quickly and I think the customers love her.”
New Hampshire’s Return to Work initiative was inspired by a similar
program in the southern state of Georgia, which also provided the model
for President Obama’s “Bridge to Work” proposal for helping the
More than 500 people have been trained through New Hampshire’s Return to
Work program over the past two years, and more than 350 of them now have
permanent full-time jobs. As more employers join the initiative, program
coordinator Keith Badger expects more unemployed workers to return to