One of the underreported but exciting policy changes (one of the few!!) that happened this year came in February 2012 when an extension of the payroll tax cut was amended with new rules directing the Department of Labor (DOL) to support self-employment training for dislocated and unemployment workers. Until this year, most job training programs would not provide support for people to train for self-employment. Under the old rules, training was designed to put people in jobs and self-employment didn’t count as a job. Today, the rules recognize that the unemployed and dislocated workers can “take a job,” but they can also “make a job” if they do desire.
Over the past six months, the DOL has been building the foundations for this work, and lots of progress is being made. This week, DOL and the Small Business Administration (SBA), unveiled an excellent new website, the Self-Employment Assistance Center, to serve as a one-stop shop for states and localities seeking to help the unemployed pursue their entreprneurial dreams. This is an impressive resource–it is much needed as few workforce development professionals have extensive experience in small business development. Various state programs are getting under way, and I’ve got high hopes for the coming year. Some of the interesting tools and programs already in place can be accessed here. If you are involved with promising local initiatives, please share them so that other states and regions can hit the ground running with these new initiatives.