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Changes in the hiring process can create opportunities for the poor

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Even when lots of new jobs are created, the poor have difficulty finding jobs. A panel discussion last night at Buffalo State College said in order for that to change, the way people are hired also has to change.

Hire Buffalo is an outreach program designed to give poor people a better shot at jobs by building a database of people looking for work and helping them prepare their resumes and get training. Associate professor of economics Curtis Haynes says programs like these may be a last chance for some workers. "If we do not make the work force reflect the city of Buffalo," he said, "that would just be a travesty."

State Assemblyman Sean Ryan, who sponsored the event, cited the example of Welded Tube in Lackawanna, which hired 200 persons through suburban employment agencies. A recent check found that not one worker was listed as living in Lackawanna.

Representatives of the federal Department of Employment Services, speaking via video link from Washington, D.C., told the gathering it requires outreach to find people who want jobs and get them ready for the hiring process. Strongly-enforced hiring rules on projects receiving public money also sharply increased the number of poor people who found jobs.

Ryan is pushing hard for the outreach because of the Solar City project. "There's going to be 2000 jobs created on a major bus route in the city of Buffalo," he said, removing the transportation obstacle that often stands between poor people and jobs. "We need to do an aggressive outreach and recruiting effort to match the Solar City jobs with the people of the city of Buffalo."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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