George Bryant is an international man of mystery. At least for now.
No, the North Jersey father of three grown sons doesn’t work for the FBI, CIA or MI5.
But Bryant is currently working on a private-sector project that is so confidential he cannot say who he works for or even pose for an identifiable photo.
He can, however, say this:
He has been hired as a senior project manager with a Fortune 100 company in New Jersey that needed his deep skills and experience to help engineer a shift in corporate strategy in all countries and across all product lines.
Bryant can also say this. While seeking employment, he received guidance and a training grant through Ready to Work New Jersey. Ready to Work is a federal-grant program that guides the long-term unemployed (out of work six months or more) in their search for work. The program can also provide training grants and match participants with companies that need their skills and experience.
“It’s a worthwhile cause and a wonderful program,” said Bryant, whose professional networking efforts played a big role in his finding the new job.
Like hundreds of thousands of other Americans, Bryant once enjoyed a long career with a major corporation—in his case 20 years with a Wall Street investment bank—before getting squeezed out in a “downsizing” following a merger. Out of work for more than a year, he found a job with IBM. When that job ended, he found himself out of work again.
While traveling along his sometimes bumpy career path, Bryant accumulated significant skills and experience as a senior project manager with a strong background in computers and information technology. (He graduated with a BS in computer science from Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City many years ago.)
As a senior project manager, Bryant is hired by large companies to make sure that in-house project managers complete their projects on-time, on-budget and with quality results. He must be able to envision the big picture driving complex projects while at the same time managing myriad details and personalities to bring those projects to fruition. It is no job for the faint of heart.
Sivaraman Anbarasan, who heads the consortium that runs Ready to Work NJ, said Bryant is a classic example of the kind of highly skilled professional the program is designed to help.
“In New Jersey alone, there are thousands of individuals with tremendous skills and experience who have trouble finding work with the companies that need their skills,” said Anbarasan, CEO and Executive Director of the New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development. “George Bryant’s story is a good example of how Ready to Work can help connect them.”
Thanks to a $10 million federal grant awarded to New Jersey’s consortium of 19 community colleges, New Jersey is one of only 16 states implementing Ready to Work programs designed specifically to connect the most qualified of these job seekers with employers who need their skills.
“Over the next four years, in New Jersey alone, we intend to assist up to 1,000 of these individuals in preparing for and finding good jobs. We will provide them with needed training, certifications, networking and support services of every kind,” Sivaraman said in announcing the formation of New Jersey’s Ready to Work program in March 2015.
In a 2014 Brookings Institute report, economist Alan Krueger and two of his Princeton colleagues concluded it is “frighteningly difficult” for the long-term unemployed in the United States to find permanent jobs. This is especially true in New Jersey, which has one of the nation’s highest rates of long-term unemployment.