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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: September, 2010

POSTED: Thursday, September 30, 2010, 12:45 PM

In Coatesville, the CareerLinks people are working hard to get jobs for the unemployed. Even jobs for the least educated are difficult to find and Cheryl Spaulding, who leads a suburban network of church-based support groups for the under and unemployed, has a theory about why this is happening.

"In the cities, you are talking about a younger population that's unemployed," said Spaulding, a founder of the original Joseph's People group that began in Downingtown. "In the suburbs, you are talking about older people who are unemployed."

I called Spaulding to get a reaction to the report on Pennsylvania's unemployed released Wednesday by the state's department of labor and industry. Because of her work, Spaulding is in regular contact with unemployed people as well as the folks at the Coatesville office of CareerLink, the state-based job search system. "The reason they can't get their people employed is because my people have the jobs," she said. "My highly-educated master’s degree people have the jobs that should be handled by young people who have high school degrees or who are graduating for community college."

POSTED: Thursday, September 30, 2010, 4:55 AM

Why, wonders Pennsylvania Secretary of Labor and Industry Sandi Vito, are there so many unemployed Pennsylvania engineers? “This is something that needs to be drilled down on,” she said. “If these folks are unemployed right now, we have some great talent sitting on the sideline.”

The engineering stat -- 15,000 engineers unemployed statewide -- was part of a report Vito's department released on Wednesday titled "A Profile of Pennsylvania's Unemployed People." You can read about the report in the Philadelphia Inquirer this morning. Vito said she found it particularly mystifying because there's always so much talk about how the United States doesn't have enough scientists and engineers to keep us competitive.

I asked Cheryl Spaulding about the report. Spaulding runs Joseph's People, a suburban network of church-based support groups for the unemployed -- the type of group that tends to attract educated and older unemployed workers (such as engineers).

POSTED: Wednesday, September 29, 2010, 10:34 AM

Yesterday's blog post was about the young who want to be involved in Philadelphia. Today's post is about older people who desperately want to stay involved by being employed. The studies show that 55+ workers have managed to hang onto more of their jobs in this recession, but when they lose those jobs, their chances of being reemployed quickly, or even at all, diminish rapidly. So here are two aspects of this -- one is news of job fair for the 55+ being held next week in Bucks County. The other is the story of a 74-year-old, a longtime employee of a company who was informed of a new policy mandating involuntary retirement at age 67, while he was in the hospital recovering from surgery. 

First the job fair: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bensalem Senior Center, 1850 Byberry Road, Bensalem on Tuesday, October 5. Sponsored by Bucks County Area Agency on Aging, Bucks County Senior Coalition and the Pennsylvania CareerLink in Bucks County. Free for jobseekers and lunch will be served.   

Next: On Tuesday, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a federal lawsuit against Asian World of Marital Arts Inc. in Northeast Philadelphia, a wholesaler and retailer of boxing and martial arts supplies -- the "leader in human contact sports." 

POSTED: Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 12:58 PM

In 2020, 10 years from now, a lot of baby boomers will be retiring, if they haven't done so already, and the young people now in their late 20s and 30s should be moving to leadership in Philadelphia. So what will be the business climate be like when they are in charge? That was the question a group of about 70 or 80 people in that age group addressed on Monday night as part of a week-long session titled "Imagining Philly's Future" sponsored by a group known as "Young Involved Philadelphia." Yes, they are the YIPs.

Not sure how young you have to be to be a YIP.  I was one of about a half dozen non-young there (looking for ideas for my group, "Not Dead Yet" Philadelphia to distinguish ourselves from SCP -- Semi-Comatose Philadelphia).

Some themes came up:

POSTED: Monday, September 27, 2010, 4:00 AM

What if you could rent a stage set -- one that could easily be manipulated to duplicate almost any environment? What if you could hire an acting troupe to play a variety of characters -- disgruntled customers, stubborn co-workers, prospective clients, all working from a script you designed? Wouldn't it be handy to stick a prospective employee in that situation and see how he or she reacts? Or wouldn't it be a great way to train someone to move into another job?

At a trade show in Philadelphia Thursday, computer geeks Charles Handler and Ben Hawkes said on-line simulations can almost do that job. They made their  pitch at Kenexa's World Conference, a three-day affair that was a combination sales show and technology seminar sponsored by Kenexa, the Wayne-based human resources software company with offices and customers around the world. (For example, Walmart is a customer.) 

Handler, a consultant and founder of Rocket-Hire, and Hawkes, who heads Kenexa's simulation department from the company's offices in the United Kingdom, believe that the future of employment assessments will center on computer simulations that are somewhat similar to video games and look like "Second Life," the avatar-based real life simulation.

POSTED: Friday, September 24, 2010, 12:09 PM

The recession is over, but unemployment is not and nowhere was that more apparent than at Thursday's kickoff event for Career Transition Partnership, a New Jersey partnership of churches, private employers, and career counselors and experts. I spoke to people like Larry E. Sutter who was laid off in August 2008 and has been unable to find a job in his field, which is sourcing, procurement and the development of consumer goods. He spends a lot of time doing the right things, networking and hoping for work, but it's not happening. Meanwhile, he's dipping into his savings.

My job at the event was to be a moderator, helping the 300 people in attendance ask themselves how they wanted to kick up CTP's efforts to a new level. The event was exciting, but the despair beneath it is palpable.

I think employers could do the world a service if they would hook up with a couple of these groups and give those groups a chance to see if their members could fill job openings. Here's why. The people that come to these groups tend to be very motivated. That's why they are there. Most of them are willing to work for less money, especially the older ones. They know that they'll be under-employed, but the way they see it, they'll be glad for the job, glad for the money and be ready to lend their experience in a new way. If the employers show these people any sort of appreciation, they'll get a loyal employee in return. Most of these people have been so demoralized, and yet are fighting on. A kind word delivered with respect, a steady and reasonable pay check, and benefits, will yield tremendous loyalty and appreciation, especially if they can see a way to move up and put their skills to use.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 7, 2010, 12:12 PM

I ran into Michael Barnes, the head of Local 8 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees'  union, at the Labor Day parade and talked to him a little bit about my story in the Philadelphia Inquirer this morning. The story makes the point that unions tend not to hold their big national meetings in Philadelphia because the Marriott hotel attached to the Pennsylvania Convention Center is a non-union hotel.

Barnes confirmed the idea when we spoke. His union meets once every four years. At its 2009 convention, it voted to go hold its next general convention in Boston because of Philadelphia's hotel situation. He said Philadelphia wasn't even considered for the convention, which brings in about 2,000 people for a several-day event.

But Barnes also illustrates the point that Tom Muldoon made. Muldoon heads Philadelphia's Convention and Visitors Bureau. He said that yes, the union business is a tough sell, but it is a small slice of the pie and getting smaller. Unions that used to hold meetings annually now meet less frequently. For example, the Communication Workers of America used to meet every year and just voted to meet every two years. 

About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer