US public schools snapping up furloughed federal employees

Furloughed federal employees looking for extra money are going to job fairs in suburban Washington D.C., where they are finding high interest in their skills.

CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports.

Week four of the partial government shutdown – and with no end in sight – U.S. federal employees are looking for work.

Around Washington D.C., public schools have been jumping at the chance to tap into this new employment pool.

“So you can be a substitute teacher for us, you can be a bus driver, you can be on transportation, you can be on security, you can be on clerical, you can be a para-educator, I mean, if you wanna be a unicorn here, I’ll find you a job. OK,” Edwards told the crowd.

Edwards said they’re a valuable asset.

“The skill set is amazing, in terms of just what they are currently doing, what they’ve done in the past, but also their current interests right now.”

“And I think it is an amazing opportunity for kids. It also gives us the opportunity if I’m a chemistry teacher, and I need to be out of work, we have people who are chemists, who can actually come in and keep the instruction moving, and the students don’t stop learning. So that’s the amazing part that really no one loses out here.”

Washington, D.C. area school districts have held job fairs targeting furloughed federal government workers. And in Montgomery County, hundreds of candidates line up for an opportunity.

Jonathan Root is a NASA program manager. He hasn’t worked since late December and said he badly needs gainful employment.

“Like many others, it’s causing cash flow problems and anxieties and stress along with that, as meeting various obligations is difficult. I have a daughter in college and one of the concerns is paying her tuition for the rest of the semester. It’s important for me to take positive action where I can to improve my situation.”

The school board said the shutdown may end up benefitting the struggling community as a whole.

“I think that not only have we supported people who are in a temporary phase in their life,” said Edwards, “but we have also brought in more rich culture, more rich opportunities, and people with very diverse employment backgrounds to our school system,  to be a part of what we do every day for children.”

With no end to the stalemate in sight, some federal jobs are now looking more precarious. It may result in the federal government’s loss becoming the public schools’ gain.