Kudos to the Washington City Paper and D.C. Councilmember David Catania for exposing the Department of Employment Services (DOES) for the sham that it is (“Have We Got a Job for You?” 8/22). The department needs to realize that the metro D.C. area has one of the nation’s highest concentrations of educated professionals and that not every unemployed technical professional possesses the skills (or interest) it takes to be an electrician’s or plumber’s apprentice, a machinist, or a BICSI-certified cable-puller.
I had my experience with the agency’s MetroTech program in December 1998, when the hi-tech industry was booming. Luckily, several incidents early on led me not to put my total trust in the program. The intake counselor at the Naylor Road One-Stop referred me to the MetroTech program and the open house to be held in February 1999. After I dealt with her for several weeks, she complimented me on my positive attitude and my impressive résumé and asked if I could help her (!) get another job.
During the open house, even though I had held a bachelor of science degree in engineering since 1984 and had been employed as an engineer with two leading telecommunications organizations, I was still required to take a remedial arithmetic test to evaluate my potential technical prowess. I responded to requests for documentation such as a copy of my diploma, a résumé, and unemployment papers. After several lost and misplaced items were finally tracked down or resubmitted, I was given the opportunity to meet with a MetroTech counselor.
The counselor to whom I was assigned was technically clueless; our counseling sessions at 800 North Capitol St. consisted of my enlightening her as to the duties and responsibilities of a telecommunications engineer. I was amazed at the amount of money that had obviously gone into the plush decor of the officean office that on any given day had no visible staff. My experience of bait-and-switch job prospects, empty promises, and total staff incompetence was similar to that experienced by Darrin Burton. I eventually found a job on my own in May 1999ironically, as a network engineer at MCI.
It seems the District has had a long succession of municipal department heads who relocate here and clean up coming and going. More than likely, they’re recruited with a huge signing bonus, get here and run a piss-poor operation while being paid an outrageous salary, then receive some ridiculous amount of get-out-of-town payoff when the media expose their departments for what they are (or are not).
Since becoming a D.C. resident, I’ve learned that anything associated with the District’s government is not worth the frustration of dealing with. DOES head Gregory Irish needs to put some substance behind those motivational posters, new office furniture, and new computers. For starters, he should get an educated, well-trained, and courteous work force that gets results.