Six months ago a young Prince George's County husband and wife with four young children were unemployed, on welfare and struggling financially.

As of last week, they are not only off welfare, but earning a combined salary of about $30,000 a year. The husband, now an electrician, and the wife, now an assistant manager in a food service establishment, are two of the first welfare recipients in Maryland who have joined the work force through the state's experimental, $7.5 million welfare revision program.

The placement in full-time jobs of seven participants in the county's Investment in Job Opportunities Program is one of the first indications of progress in the six-month-old program aimed at persons covered by Aid to Families with Dependent Children.

Maryland's is one of a handful of experimental welfare programs prompted by 1981 federal legislation shifting more of the burden of welfare revision to the states.

In recent years, state and local governments around the country have begun testing ways to reduce their welfare rolls by training AFDC recipients for jobs. In Maryland, where the concept of putting welfare recipients to work first cropped up in the legislature in the early 1980s, the state began providing money this year to 10 specially designated areas to begin job incentive programs.

Each jurisdiction has the discretion to design its own program. Prince George's received the second largest amount of funding -- $600,000 -- from the state, after Baltimore. The grants are based on the number of welfare recipients in a jurisdiction.

The program attempts to train and place welfare recipients in private sector jobs paying more than $5.50 an hour, said Joseph Puhalla, president of the Prince George's Private Industry Council.

Although only 10 percent of the program's 70 Prince George's participants have been placed so far, administrators say they are on schedule to meet their projected goal of 125 placements by next June.

A conference at the Greenbelt Hilton this week was aimed at luring 80 local businesses to hire graduates of the Prince George's program and was one of the first major attempts in the state to spark corporate interest in the jobs inititiative.

"The companies are not swarming to hire these people," Puhalla said, but added that it is still too early to come to any conclusions about the program's potential for success.

The entire 18-month Maryland program has been off to a slow start, but is still regarded by experts in the field as one of the most comprehesive and innovative in the country.

"Maryland's program has a larger training component than most. It is more 'hands-on', more innovative and more expensive than most, which is going to be better off in the long run," said Richard Reischauer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and an expert on welfare reform

Maryland's program provides a more rigorous training program than others, as well as higher average salaries for graduates, transportation, and child care assistance, county officials said.

The training includes several months of classes and workshops in areas ranging from "dressing for success" to computer training, said Jeanette Ferguson of the county's Economic Development Corp.

Officials said the statewide goal to place, by 1988, 1,500 former welfare recipients in jobs that will allow them to be self-sufficent.

According to some specialists on national welfare revision, the Maryland program has yet to post placement figures as impressive as in other states, such as California or Massachusetts.

In Massachussetts, the Employment and Training Program (ET), now in its third year, had placed 6,000 of its graduates in jobs at the end of its first year, and currently is placing about 600 graduates a month, according to a spokesman.

But, says Reischauer, "It's still too early to tell {about Prince George's}. I wouldn't be at all discouraged with a number like seven at this stage. These programs take a long time to set up."

Currently 6,500 Prince George's County residents receive AFDC money; the county spends $20 million annually on AFDC and 18,000 residents are listed as below the poverty level.

County officials said they screen applicants to select AFDC recipients who are relatively new on the welfare rolls and who are "highly motivated."