Your story on the laid-off Hughes Aircraft Co. defense engineer ("From Hughes to hell--and back," People, Oct. 18) provides a number of lessons. We work with defense people nationwide who have to move to commercial industry. The engineer's experience is all too typical of people we talk to. The denial of reality and inability to understand the transition process are not unexpected, as defense people have often worked in defense their entire careers, often at only one company or agency.
Unfortunately, the assistance programs that are generally available, primarily government-sponsored, do not adequately meet the unique needs of these people--contrary to government's view that defense people are an unemployment "resource" and only need reorientation. Many technology companies are hiring, but "two weeks of tedious classes in resum writing and interviewing techniques to gain access to a listing of jobs" is a government-inspired solution that fails people like the one in your story.
While out-of-work defense people are only one part of today's employment problem, they are easily identified, eminently transferable, and immediately available to solve some of the country's problems. Multiply your sad story by a million people, and you can see the impact of getting them effective help vs. the status quo.
National Center For Career Change
Walnut Creek, Calif.