Rutgers touts success of NJ long-term unemployed program

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Emerging from the rubble of the Great Recession, the creation of the New Start Career Network in 2015 provided support to more than 6,000 New Jerseyans experiencing long-term unemployment during its initial six-year period.

Rutgers University Distinguished Professor and Director of the school’s Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Carl Van Horn, started the program.

To illustrate the impact of those six years, Van Horn noted that one of the network’s biggest benefactors from the beginning was the Philip and Tammy Murphy Family Foundation.

But by the end of that time, Phil Murphy had transitioned from financier to governor of New Jersey and presiding over the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health crisis ushered in new and different unemployment conditions, but Van Horn said the lessons learned by the New Start Career Network proved valuable then and will continue to do so in the future.

Not as “internet savvy” as younger generations

Van Horn said the network would not work without the efforts of some 400 volunteer coaches who were able to provide group or one-on-one advice, including on web-based services to help people re-enter the market. work.

It was their intervention, said Van Horn, that was the most important element of New Start.

“A lot of these people don’t really have a lot of job search experience, and they may not be as internet savvy as the younger generation,” he said. “Volunteers, again, have been extremely important to the success of this program.”

A new report on the effectiveness of the program revealed, even beyond the figures according to Van Horn, that jobseekers need sympathy and to be well informed.

The numbers weren’t slouched either: 9 out of 10 said they would recommend the program to a friend, and 8 out of 10 felt it provided them with “essential emotional support”.

Mental health needs of job seekers must be taken into account

And the emotional side of things is a feeling that Van Horn is underrated. The last thing a long-term unemployed person needs, he said, is another bill, and too often services other than unemployment insurance are not available without a price tag.

“Being unemployed, especially long-term unemployment that lasts six months, a year, two years, affects people’s mental health and makes it difficult for them to successfully find a job,” he said.

So going forward, he recommends that the state review its financial commitment to mental health services for this population that is aging, may lack some level of formal education, and/or whose chosen industry may be declining in New Jersey terms. global economy.

“It doesn’t necessarily provide the guidance and guidance that people need when they’re discouraged and really don’t know how to get out of that mindset that they’re in,” Van Horn said.

Nearly 4 in 10 respondents (38%) said they got a new job as a result of their participation in the New Start Career Network.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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