Good-paying jobs are out there for the taking

By Abdul Hakim-Shabazz

Because of my psychological need to get the last word, I have a bad habit of getting into arguments with individuals on Facebook. Most recently it was over jobs, and the economy and the reality matched up with data.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) reported the state’s unemployment rate increased to 4.1 percent in February, up 0.1 percent from the previous month. DWD says the state gained 4,400 private sector jobs last month. And U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show Indiana’s labor force increased by more than 7,900. The state’s labor force remained at more than 3.32 million, and its participation rate is 64.4 percent which continues to be higher than the national rate of 63 percent.

Despite the data, I end up dealing with people who tell me those aren’t “good paying jobs.” Or those numbers may work for some people, but if you’re black, older or have a criminal record, then no one will hire you. The excuses — I’m sorry, the whining — keeps going on and on and on.

And while I could cite more facts and data about wages and how in most cases education attainment is directly related to income achievement, instead I decided to use a few real-life examples to make my point.

You see, this past week I emceed the DWD’s annual Work One awards. It’s an event where they recognize employers and employees who’ve stepped things up when it comes to employment.

For example, I met Randy from LaPorte. It took him more than six months to find a job. He attended workshops, networked and met with DWD his career advisor three to four times a week. He also went on numerous job interviews. Guess what? His hard work and perseverance paid off because he was hired as the general manager at CHEP Pallecon Solutions North America, a leading container pooler in South Bend.

And then there was Scott, a veteran from Marion who served in the Navy for five years. He lost his job in October 2015 because of a legal issue surrounding his problem with addiction. He went to DWD for job assistance and, guess what? He got it.

He took required assessments, enrolled into WIOA services, improved his résumé and worked on his confidence in interviewing. He remained diligent about finding a new job and working on his sobriety. And it ended up with Scott found work in March of 2016 as a maintenance worker.

And Randy and Scott are not alone. I could tell you about Raymond from Indianapolis and Doniell from Montpelier. Both were ex-offenders, and both went to get help in finding a job to start a new life. Both got help going back to school to get certified for new careers. Raymond is getting his HVAC certification at Ivy Tech. Doniell is working as a freight handler and within one year on the job got a promotion.

But what about the single mom? I’m glad you asked. Let me tell you about Priscilla, a 23-year-old single mother of two boys. She worked with a case manager to set up a six-week work experience with a local daycare provider. After completing the program, Priscilla was hired on full time and is currently employed there. She is now in the process of buying a house and wants to open her in-home daycare someday.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Robert or Lauren. Robert was a homeless veteran; Lauren was out of work and living on public assistance. Both got help with Work One. Robert got help getting his commercial truck driver’s license, while Lauren, who had a criminal background, got help with resume writing and job interviewing. Robert is now a truck driver. Lauren not only landed a job but did so well got a raise after 90 days.

Each one of these individuals that I mentioned is an example of what happens when a person is faced with challenges and decides to tackle them head-on instead of sitting around and whining about their lot in life. They took the initiative, got help and all are now in much better place in life. Isn’t it amazing how that happens?

Now if you excuse me, I have to post this on Facebook.

Abdul Hakim-Shabazz is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org. He also is a frequent contributor to numerous Indiana media outlets. He can be reached at abdul@indypolitics.org.