Tuesday, March 31, 1998
In a hearing today before the Consumer and Industry Services Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, dozens of supporters of a new employment service system turned out to praise it. In testimony before the subcommittee, John Palmer, director of the Employment Service Agency of the Michigan Jobs Commission, said the new system put customers first. "Already, we're seeing results. For example, right here in Lansing, surveys show that 95% of people were satisfied with their visit and 99% thought the staff were courteous and helpful. Most telling, 87% of respondents said they felt the new system was better than the old," Palmer said. "That's been my point all along. This is a better system for job seekers. We've been saying it and now the job seekers themselves are saying it. Let the system work, and people will get work." Palmer also provided the committee with a 13-page report refuting allegations made by the Coalition for Effective Michigan Employment Services. Palmer outlined many of the errors in research made by the Coalition, an organization backed by unions opposed to the improvements. "As a long-time civil servant, as a 10-year employee of the former Michigan Employment Security Agency, and as the director of the Employment Service Agency, I was stunned and hurt by the allegations," Palmer said. "I personally took these charges very seriously, and I looked into each and every one of them. I can tell you now that the charges were not objective, usually not factual and almost always the result of sloppy research." Supporters of the new system, representing small businesses, large businesses, manufacturers, community service agencies and others arrived in droves to testify before the subcommittee. They feel the new system, which replaces an old system with only a 4 percent success rate, is a vast improvement, a claim Palmer supported in his testimony. "Under the old system, we had tens of thousands of people who were eligible for additional services, but never knew about it, and were never referred to that additional help. People who could have been referred to adult education, or to additional job skill services, were not," Palmer said. "Finally, all job search services are under one roof, and the job seeker can now benefit like never before." Palmer noted that the state would soon begin statewide surveying of customers of the new system, both businesses and job seekers, to determine customer satisfaction levels, use of various services, how many found jobs and how many found workers. The new Talent Bank system is already the largest public Internet-based resume system in the nation, with over 125,000 resumes and 10,000 job openings listed. Employers and job seekers are encouraged to use this free system by visiting its web site at http://michworks.org.