Obama May Adopt Georgia Training Program Nationwide

President Barack Obama’s jobs-creation package will target the long-term unemployed with a jobs-training program pioneered in Georgia, the WSJ reports.

The Georgia program allows the unemployed to continue to receive their weekly unemployment checks, plus a small transportation stipend, while working and training at a company for eight weeks. When the time is up, the company can decide to hire the employee or not. If the employee isn’t hired, the company pays nothing.

Obama called it a “smart program” at a town hall meeting last week, the WSJ says. But Harvard economist Lawrence Katz said that companies might not care about hiring someone on a tryout if they already have plenty of qualified applicants. (According to Bloomberg Businessweek, they don’t.)

Despite having its funding cut earlier this year, the Georgia program, called Georgia Works, is in demand. The Georgia labor commissioner who created the program, Michael Thurmond, told the WSJ that 33 other states had asked to replicate it. More than 30,000 people have participated in the program since 2003. Out of the 23,084 who completed the program, a quarter were hired by the employer that trained them and another 35% got jobs somewhere else.

The jobs-creation package should be unveiled next month. As of now, the cost of the program is unclear, the WSJ said.