A sign of the times? Federal unemployment benefits that once cut off at 26 weeks have now been extended up to 99 weeks in some states. This will give the long-term unemployed a longer lifeline to pull them through these rough economic times. Should it be tied to job retraining?
At the same time, Senate Democrats and President Obama are moving closer to the 60 votes needed to pass their jobs and economic relief bill. To break through the stalemate with Republicans, they have trimmed more billions from the bill and hope to see it pass this week, or early next week. Is Congress betting on corporate America, or the entrepreneur?
This past week, I've had conversations with people involved in getting people out of the unemployment line and into the workforce. With many businesses still reluctant to add new hires, it may be outdated thinking by the government to believe that existing businesses will be able to absorb most of the unemployed.
Do we need more plumbers, electricians, green builders, nurses, and day laborers? The easy answer is yes. More difficult question to answer is: Who will hire them?
With housing starts down, with the fortunes of the auto industry sagging, with the offshore oil drilling industry being shutdown, and the discovery that many of the oil rigs operating offshore have had little to no maintenance for 25 years or more, with tourism taking a nose-dive in the Gulf states -- what's the likelihood that there will be a job waiting at the end of 26-weeks? At the end of 99-weeks in the unemployment line?
American business is known for its innovative thinking and entrepreneurial "rags-to-riches" style. Right? Napoleon Hill's book, 'Think and Grow Rich,' has become a perennial bestseller. If we are such an enterprising "land of opportunity" then where is the opportunity for the unemployed? Should they be getting training to become entrepreneurs?
"We'd like to make Boulder County the entrepreneurial center of Colorado," enthused Tom Miller, director of Workforce Boulder County. Boulder has a strong track record for attracting entrepreneurs to set up shop at the base of the Rockies.
I agree with Tom, however, I think along with Boulder, every county in America should be host to an entrepreneurial incubator. We have enterprise zones. Let's also create entrepreneurial training programs for anyone who wants to shred their resume and step out of the job line and into their own business.
In my Inbox today, I received an offer to "Own A Health Coach Business." Am I interested? Should I decide to reinvent myself as a health coach and take this online course? Could I, or my neighbor, make enough money as a health coach to support a family of two, or four?
Or, would I rather be a carpenter and build a custom home office in your closet, or a 7x9 foot sound studio for you, like Salman Kahn a self-appointed teacher who runs a one-man "Academy" on YouTube from his closet?
Stop for a moment and let your fingers walk through the "Yellow Pages" of the phone directory...or if your phone book has been recycled, do an online search. How many thousands, millions of micro-businesses could be started with the BILLIONS soon to flow from Congress toward the creation of new jobs to support the local economy?
Have the travel bug? Want to learn a trade fast and cheap? Travel to Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua. Spend a few weeks in Asia. Learn something new from a crafts person, then ask yourself: "Who needs what I have to offer back home?"
What about soldiers returning from military duty in Iraq and Afghanistan? What do they know that we need to learn? Can they be put to work in education, serving as mentor-teachers? Should teachers be mentors first?
To think outside of the box, we first need to put ourselves in the box. Think small, then grow your best idea into something bigger.
When all is said and done, the bottom line for the unemployed or underemployed might be this piece of wisdom from an unknown source: "A Bend in the Road is Not the End of the Road, Unless You Fail to Make the Turn."
If you can turn toward your passion, then, turn it into a business. If you're a risk taker, use the 99 week lifeline to re-engineer yourself into an entrepreneur.
An Amazon bestseller, Parkinomics is an inspirational Job Hunter's Boot Camp in a Book. It focuses on careers in the New Economy. Parkinomics. It includes ideas and links to resources.
Alexia Parks offers online tele-seminars for people in transition to jobs in the New Economy. With 61% of people wanting to be their own boss, she shows how to tap into your skills and passion to create a DREAM job that offers you a life of meaning, prosperity and purpose. Learn more on AlexiaParks.com.