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Friday, April 10, 2009

Signs of employability in the unemployment workshop

(Background music that is running through my mind as I write this is a song from 1970 by the Five Man Electrical Band; the song was called "Signs"...lyrics pasted in at the end of this post)

I attended a 2-hour WorkSource (Washington State Employment Security) workshop on unemployment benefits and job search counseling. It is disheartening to see so many others in the job market and so many who are so ill-prepared that they even showed up without having the forms filled out.

Even more remarkable though is that the facilitator of the class had such a poor command of English, it boggled my mind that HE was employed and the rest of us are not.

An example?

At one point he said, "This is how we does it."


"You must apply for a 'pacific' position."

I believe he was trying to say "specific" but each time he said it, it came out as "pacific"...

So, maybe there's hope for me that I'll land something...somewhere...if there is still any value placed on being fluent and proficient in English.

Another State employee who came in to teach a section of the class informed us that he is the person that employers work with to find job seekers whose qualifications match the employer's needs. He has long hair pulled back in a ponytail. Not that I don't like long hair on men (I do!) but it was surprising that he is the State employee who is the gatekeeper between the unemployed and the employers. (Hear the lyrics to "Signs" playing in the background?)

It was also eye-opening that the young woman/job seeker shown in the PowerPoint had a piercing in her nose. If I were an employer, someone with a nose piercing would be the last person I'd hire. Well, maybe second or third to the last... Those with lip and eyebrow piercings would be even farther down the list.

During the workshop ponytail-man emphasized that we must not apply for positions that list required qualifications, which we do not possess.

At the end of the class, another State worker presented me with a printout of a job that she was convinced I was absolutely perfect for, but when I looked at it, it was one I was already well aware of and knew that my credentials do not match what they are seeking. She persisted, insisting that I apply for it in spite of what ponytail-man had just underscored that we must not do.


Even more confusing?

Interviews cannot be counted toward the quota of three job search contacts in a week. That's right. Even if you are lucky enough to be granted an interview for a position you've applied for, you cannot 'count' that.

It's crazy-making...

(Credit given to the 1970 hit by the Five Man Electrical Band ... I hear them singin' in the background... )

And the sign said long haired freaky people need not apply

So I tucked my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why

He said you look like a fine upstanding young man, I think you'll do

So I took off my hat I said imagine that, huh, me working for you, whoa!

Sign Sign everywhere a sign

Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind

Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

And the sign said anybody caught trespassing would be shot on sight

So I jumped on the fence and yelled at the house, Hey! what gives you the right?

To put up a fence to keep me out or to keep mother nature in?

If God was here, he'd tell you to your face, man you're some kinda sinner.

Sign Sign everywhere a sign

Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind

Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign

Now, hey you Mister! can't you read, you got to have a shirt and tie to get a seat

You can't even watch, no you can't eat, you ain't suppose to be here

Sign said you got to have a membership card to get inside Uh!

And the sign said everybody welcome, come in, kneel down and pray

But when they passed around the plate at the end of it all, I didn't have a penny to pay,

so I got me a pen and a paper and I made up my own little sign

I said thank you Lord for thinking about me, I'm alive and doing fine.

Sign Sign everywhere a sign

Blocking out the scenery breaking my mind

Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?


Lorraine Hart said...

Erm...I think you missed the point of the song.

Jaynie Jones said...

Not at all... It is a commentary on how things have changed since 1970.

Lorraine Hart said...

From another perspective, it can look like using a song that protests validate prejudice.

Stephanie Frieze said...

The song was definitely protesting prejudice. The signs may be gone, but the prejudice lingers on in spots.

Stephanie Frieze said...

As the mother of an offspring with disabilities, as a para educator in Special Education who deals with students with learning and speech problems and as the mother-in-law of a loving, beautiful woman with a diamond in her nose I am here to tell you that all of them are entitled to jobs. Each has a loving heart and gifts to give those who come in contact with them. I am sure that job hunting in this climate is horrendous and frightening, but let us not begin to look for a group to target in our frustration. That sort of climate has led to some even more frightening and horrendous acts historically.