The Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade began a $1.5 million program yesterday aimed at convincing local businessmen to hire the area's unemployed.
The board is planning a week of activities designed to bring the unemployed together with employers. But local officials said at a news conference yesterday that they don't know how to motiviate the unemployed who don't want to work.
A career opportunity fair is scheduled on Saturday, but only those job seekers specially invited by local government officials are eligible to attend.
The job seekers were invited ahead of time to be briefed on how to behave, dress and what to expect, according to Ken Cushenberry, chairman of the board's Human Development Bureau.
Those eligible to attend the fair were selected by each jurisdiction based on each area's own criteria, Cushenberry said.
The $1.5 million for the program was donated by local jurisdictions through their Comprehensive Employment Training Act (CETA) funds. Those jurisdictions are Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Montgomery and Prince Georges counties, and the District, Alexandria and Fairfax City.
The board of trade officials said they hope to solicit $6 million more from Congress for the program.
The program centers around job training for the unemployed and unskilled. Employers who hire and train such persons would be reimbursed for part of the prticipant's wages.
Employers also may be eligible for a tax credit for hiring particular unskilled and disadvantaged persons through another federal program.
Actress and singer Pearl Bailey, one of two area chairpersons of the board's week of activities, said at the press conference yesterday that motivating the unemployed to find work is a major obstacle to the program.
Oliver T. Carr, Board of Trade president, said that "a top priority" for the board this year would be "finding jobs for youths."
Those not invited to the opportunity fair on Saturday should check with their local unemployment office for the jobs, Cushenberry said.