MIT professor Ofer Sharone hopes to solve a dark problem that few even want to discuss: how to help the long-term unemployed.
More than four years after the last recession ended, long-term unemployment remains near record levels, with 4.1 million Americans out of work for more than six months and still struggling to find jobs. What makes the problem so vexing, Sharone said, is these workers, typically older, have qualifications that should provide the path to employment, namely experience, accomplishment, and college degrees.
“You can’t just say go get an education because these people are often educated.” he said. “It’s scary because there’s not an obvious, easy solution.”
Sharone, however, is daring to try to find one. Later this month, he will launch a project called the Institute for Career Transitions, an organization to help the long-term unemployed, focusing on 40- to 65-year-old workers with college degrees. The institute will begin by pairing them with career counselors or job coaches, free of charge, for three months.
Sharone and his researchers will also try to build a better understanding of long-term unemployment and approaches that might help overcome its challenges and barriers. They will study the moods, health, and levels of depression among participants, examining how long-term unemployment — and repeated disappointments — affect them, their motivation, and ability to get back to work.I think the problem of the long-term unemployed will only become more problematic in the future. Best wishes to Professor Sharone and his project, and best wishes to all of us.