College graduates in caps and gowns
College graduates in caps and gowns - 
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Steve Chiotakis: As Washington gets back to work after a long Labor Day holiday, the nation's employment picture is getting a lot of focus. President Obama on Thursday will give a speech before Congress outlining his proposals to create more jobs. Meanwhile, a college in Southern California is announcing its own stimulus plan of sorts -- offering to pay employers up to $2,000 to hire its graduates.

Marketplace's Amy Scott is with us live from the education desk at WYPR in Baltimore. Good morning, Amy.

Amy Scott: Morning, Steve.

Chiotakis: How is this program going to work?

Scott: Well, it's run by the University of Antelope Valley, which is a private, for-profit college in Lancaster, Calif., just north of Los Angeles. The school is offering a subsidy, basically, to local companies to hire its graduates -- as you said, up to $2,000 of the first month's salary.

It's also offering to pre-screen candidates, you know -- narrow down resumes, do background checks -- to make the hiring process easier. And the idea is that a lot of companies these days are reluctant to hire in this shaky economy, and this might help nudge them off the fence.

Chiotakis: This is, it seems to me anyway, an unusual strategy for a college, eh?

Scott: That's right. I talked with Jeff Strohl at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, and he said he hadn't heard of anything quite like this. But he's skeptical. He says hiring people is expensive. You know, there's the cost of posting an ad, interviewing people, maybe some of them don't work out.

Jeff Strohl: Two thousand is probably enough to make an employer take a second look. But in the end, I bet they're going to be more interested in what the students have learned and how it might align with what their needs are.

I talked earlier with the founders of this college. They say they're working with small companies that need these workers, and could use the money. As you know, for-profit colleges have gotten a lot of criticism for not adequately train workers for good-paying jobs. And in fact, this school needs to place a certain percentage of graduates to keep its accreditation and that's been hard lately. So it's not just about helping students, or even the economy. Obviously, if this university can improve its job placement rates, it's good for business too.

Chiotakis:Good for business. Alright, Marketplace's Amy Scott reporting live for us from Baltimore. Amy, thanks.

Scott: You're welcome.