Helping the long term unemployed
Last week I attended a conference at MIT focusing on the current crisis facing the unemployed. This conference was hosted by Ofer Sharone, an assistant professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Ofer opened up the conference, by stating that when workers remain unemployed for more than six months, the effect is more than financial, but psychological. The long term unemployed (LTU) describe themselves in a “black hole” that they cannot seem to get out of.
I met Ofer last summer at the NCDA conference, where he shared with me of an idea to help the LTU and research which coaching best practices would be more helpful. I eagerly agreed to help. In August, Ofer hosted a meeting with about 30 career coaches, to discuss how we can make a difference. Ofer had also recruited a research team from MIT, Brandsis and Northeastern with “a mission to generate effective strategies, offer practical support, and increase public understanding of the challenges facing professionals in career transitions.” Career coaches were recruited, who were willing to give their time to help LTU job seekers.
In September, the Institute for Career Transitions, (ICT), was launched. The institute looked to job clubs, state career centers and the internet to recruit possible job seekers for the program. The focus would be to help white collar job seekers, who were looking for work more than six months, and who were over 40 years old. The first pilot, providing coaching to 100 job seekers, for three months, from December to March. The pilot included a control of group of 100 job seekers who did not receive coaching. One very encouraging finding we discovered was that job seekers who received coaching experienced a positive impact to their self esteem.
The purpose of the recent conference was to share findings, and invite policy makers and those in the front lines to join the cause. Hopefully, the conference will encourage more people to take part in finding a solution to this crisis, and spread this model to more cities around the country. I am looking forward to continued work with ICT, to continue to find ways to help the LTU.