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'Get To Work,' Sundance Channel Reality Series, Profiles Chronically Unemployed Finding Work

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Every once in a while, a reality show hits the airwaves and convinces us that pointing a camera in someone’s face 24/7 is actually worthwhile. A new program on unemployment may prove to be one of those cases.

The Sundance Channel’s "Get to Work” –- an eight-episode series on chronic unemployment -- debuted Monday and follows around individuals who have hit rock bottom. Some are struggling with drug abuse, others have lengthy criminal records, but all have signed on for a four-week job placement program run by the San Diego organization Second Chance.

"These are people who have been marginally outside the employment arena for years," lead job trainer, Rob Smith, tells CNN. "[These] clients probably [dealt with] generational unemployment -- [they] have watched their mothers and fathers never go to work…We're trying to change that behavior early on, so that we can break that cycle."

The month-long course follows the employment model designed by STRIVE, a nonprofit that has helped 50,000 Americans find work. The program provides participants with attitudinal and job readiness education, skills training, support services, job placement, and guaranteed follow-ups to facilitate smooth reintegration into the workforce.

"This is a program that clients are coming [into] with considerable barriers," Smith told CNN. "70 percent of our clients go into employment…and maintain their jobs for a minimum of two years."

Part of what makes the program successful –- and the show watchable –- is the instructors’ stern approach. They’ll punish latecomers and unhesitatingly expel participants who aren’t dedicated enough, according to the New York Times.

“Twenty percent of you in this room are full of it,” an instructor tells the class early on, according to the news outlet. “You don’t want to work. You just want to look like you’re doing something. Because going to work every day is a real commitment.”

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