First problem: a lack of skilled labor to fill some jobs at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Loch Raven Boulevard.
Second problem: finding jobs for students who will graduate from Lake Clifton-Eastern High School next spring with no immediate plans for college.
Solution: a special work-study program that will virtually guarantee jobs at the VA hospital for at least seven students upon graduation, and provide real-world training for some 25 more.
The new program is one of a growing number of cooperative ventures between employers and the schools.
"We have a lot of kids who come out of school not going to college," noted Oscar T. Jobe, Lake Clifton-Eastern principal. "What we need to do is make sure there is something they can do."
The federal jobs program, he said, "is a vocational program and it is designed to fill a specific need."
The program is a cooperative effort between Lake Clifton and the VA Medical Center, with the help of the federal Office of Personnel Management.
It focuses on jobs where the VA has trouble hiring skilled workers, said R. David Edwards, chief of voluntary service for the hospital. They include clerical positions, typists, data entry clerks, secretaries and workers in housecleaning and maintenance.
Over the summer, two staff members from Lake Clifton were put on the hospital's payroll to develop the special curriculum that went into effect for a group of seniors this school year.
They came up with a program that adds special courses to the regular curriculum, combined with time spent on the job at the hospital.
In the first year, 32 seniors are competing for the seven hospital jobs now available.
From September through January, their course work is to include training on electronic calculators, the Wang word-processing system, the IBM PS2 computer, electronic transcription equipment and electric typewriters.
The students are to get intensive typing practice to boost their typing rates to 30 to 60 words a minute.
And they are to brush up on their basic language skills, as well as learn how to prepare a resume and get ready for a job interview.
From February through May, seven of those students are to spend work-study time at the hospital, either after school, on weekends or, in some cases, in week-on, week-off stretches of attending school and going to work.
If they graduate and complete their training, the seven work-study students will be hired at the hospital without having to take the federal Civil Service test, under new federal regulations that allow such hirings.
A school official said they would start work at the federal government's GS-3 Step One level, with an annual salary of $12,982.
Other students in the program are to have the opportunity to participate in an internship program at the hospital.