“We need to build a network of relationships with the whole spectrum of folks who are important to this,” he said. “That’s employers, employer organizations, state and federal agencies, other nonprofits in this space and the grassroots and faith communities where we can find folks who are unemployed.”
The New Start Career Network is off to a strong start, forming partnerships with BioNJ, IBM, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, and UPS.
Murphy also highlighted the need for volunteers to act as coaches for long-term unemployed individuals, though he recognized the challenge in providing these volunteers with proper training in the yearlong leadup to the launch.
“We had to find volunteers because we feel like they’re the X-factor, and we had to make sure we trained them,” he said. “This is not just taking people off the street; this is finding qualified folks and training them.
Carl Van Horn, director of the Heldrich Center, emphasized that these coaches are an essential asset to helping the initiative achieve its goals. This is through helping candidates understand how the job market has shifted in the time since they last looked for employment.
“A lot of candidates don’t know how important a website like LinkedIn is or how to navigate a website to find what they need,” he said. “Or, if they have a Skype interview, do they know how to log on to Skype?”
The coaches also offer further information that will help support job candidates while they transition back into the workforce after extended unemployment.
“They don’t know that they could get a training program or if you need money to pay your heating bills or refinance your mortgage,” he said. “There’s all that financial stuff that they’ve never had a problem with and all of the sudden they do.””