Yesterday, I was rushing to a meeting, clutching a briefcase in one hand, and a large stack of papers in the other. Just as the door to the building was about to swing closed and nearly knock me over, a young woman turned and grabbed the door open for me, and smiled. That gesture, making the effort to reach out and help me, was very small in the scheme of things, but it made my morning.

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There is a lot that Americans are arguing about these days. Should government do more or less? Should we cut spending to reduce the deficit or invest to grow the economy? Whose responsibility is it to create jobs, and how can that happen faster? But one thing we are pretty much in agreement about is that if Americans work hard, play by the rules, and do whatever they can to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, they should have the opportunity to succeed. Or maybe not.

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June is graduation season. From one end of Commonwealth Avenue to the other end of Massachusetts Avenue, dozens of venerable institutions sent thousands of graduates out into the world. And a challenging world it is. The New York Times recently estimated that 50% of last year’s graduating class is still unemployed. Getting these new graduates launched in their careers before they permanently lose life-time earning power is critically important, and JVS’ Career Moves has made this a priority.

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Last spring, I joined with House Speaker Robert DeLeo in a visit to JVS’ classrooms to meet the clients who are getting jobs with the help of the Commonwealth’s Employment Services Program (ESP). As we sat in one classroom, student after student told their story of coming to this country, or losing a low-end job, facing innumerable barriers, and yet never wavering in their quest to achieve the American dream. Like me, the Speaker was visibly moved as he heard these moving stories of personal triumph over adversity. But, come July 1, these classrooms may very well be empty.

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Last week at a meeting with Jerry McDermott, Massachusetts State Director for Senator Scott Brown, my friend Steve Tamasi, co-owner of the Accu Rounds and Boston Centerless manufacturing companies, provided insight to the senator and his budget-cutting colleagues on why we shouldn’t cut job training and placement funds in the midst of this terrible job market. Steve said that when his companies spend money on training their employees, they consider it an investment, not an expense. They have more than doubled their workforce over the past decade, dramatically increased sales, and would not have been to do this without a good deal of their own investments in training, combined with significant public training funds.

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