Schumer on Black Unemployment

Chuck Schumer is planning to give a speech tomorrow morning outlining proposals on how to increase employment among black males.

Last week, I followed Schumer around a bit as he researched the issue first hand at the East Harlem offices of STRIVE, a group that provides coaching on how to get and retain jobs.

He was in classic Schumer research mode, peppering the program’s administrator’s with questions (“What’s the youngest age” “What’s going on here” “Is it free, the food?”) and hunching over during class time to quiz the course instructors about success levels, tactics and goals.

According to one of the workforce development experts who met with Schumer for over an hour after the tour, the Senator showed special interest in how emphasizing improvement in “soft skills” like attitudes, communications, and collaboration could lead to more employment, and was curious about whether STRIVE’s program could be replicated on a larger scale.

This isn’t exactly a sexy issue, but the fact that no one in the Senate is paying much attention to it represents that much more of an opportunity for Schumer, or someone else, to make a big mark by proposing something truly original.

I’ll be curious to see whether the STRIVE model — a sort of workforce development version of Scared Straight — makes it into the address.

–Jason Horowitz