Monday, December 7, 2009

Dec. 7: Jobs Advice Needs To Come From Those Experiencing the Shifts

By Sylvia Gurinsky

It's all well and good that President Barack Obama wants to rely on the sage heads of this country to get people back to work.

But his jobs summit last week also needed to feature more of the unemployed - particularly those who have had to face the altering of lives and livelihoods that had been established for decades.

Reshaping the American economy involves a lot more than saying it is time to create "green" jobs or jobs in new technologies. It involves a lot more than saying workers can be retrained.

It also involves changing the psychology of many of those workers, and that is far more difficult.

If one has been a factory worker, or a journalist, or a travel agent (all jobs in serious trouble in the United States) at the same company for more than 20 years, and that person has lost that job and the benefits that went with it - not to mention the camaraderie and sense of family with fellow workers - where does that person go from there? That's something millions of workers have been learning about during the past few years. It's not as easy as saying "get a new job in a new industry" or even "train for that new job."

Hopefully, as Obama crafts a plan for more jobs, he will go out into the country and hear from more people in that situation - and create a plan that relies as much on them as it does on so-called "experts."


Former U.S. Sen. Paula Hawkins died late last week.

Hawkins capitalized on being an outsider - she had held no previous elected office - to win the Republican senatorial primary in Florida in 1980, and then rode Ronald Reagan's coattails to victory over incumbent Sen. Richard Stone, a Democrat.

Hawkins mainly championed children's issues during her single term. But she was increasingly seen as being out of touch and too close to Reagan's policies for the taste of many Florida voters at the time. In 1986, she faced the state's most popular politician, Gov. Bob Graham, for the race to keep her seat. Graham won and served in the Senate until 2004.

Commenting about Hawkins last week, Graham mentioned that the 1986 campaign was a civil one. That civility and Hawkins' status as a pioneer for Florida women deserve notice - and tribute.

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