Georgia Works

With nationwide attention turning to job creation, one program that is generating strong interest is Georgia Works, an innovative model program developed in Georgia in 2003 by Commissioner Michael Thurmond.

The American Institute for Full Employment has studied the program in some detail and, based on its innovative design, awarded the program our 2008 Full Employment Award.Below are more details.

What is Georgia Works?

Georgia Works allows job seekers to volunteer to train with an employer while they collect unemployment benefits, for 24 hours per week and for up to 8 weeks. In the past it has also included a stipend paid to the job seeker to help with their expenses (e.g. child care and transportation) during their participation in the program. The idea is to give job seekers another option in their job search that can connect them with an employer, give them job specific training and skills that can lead to them landing a new job.

In some ways, it is similar to government Unemployment Insurance programs that allow job seekers to enter state paid classroom training and continue to receive their Unemployment Insurance claims.

How Has Georgia Works Performed?

Through January of 2010, according to the Georgia Department of Labor, over 10,000 job seekers have participated. In that time, 6,105 people completed training and 3,363 landed jobs through the program. Another 1,170 job seekers landed jobs within the quarter after completing their training – a common benefit seen in similar programs. As such, the program has demonstrated great opportunities to be a strong and important part of a state’s reemployment services.

Is Georgia Works a Wage Subsidy Program?

No. Georgia Works does not involve any wages paid by the employer. Instead, it helps job seekers by allowing them to be involved in training with an employer while continuing their Unemployment Benefit claims.

Wage subsidy programs offer the employer a subsidy to help defray the costs of training a new employee. The largest example is Texas’s Back to Work program with over 18,000 participants to date. It provides employers $2,000 for the hires they make and it won the US Dept of Labor’s Innovation Award last year. To learn more about wage subsidy programs, visit our Wage Subsidy page.

How Can a State Design a Georgia Works Program?

The Georgia Works design can fit into most state’s Unemployment Insurance programs. A growing number of states have adopted Georgia Works model programs and the American Institute for Full Employment has been consulting with states on its use and design since 2010.

For more information and consulting on a Georgia Works-type program design, please contact our team of consultants at