October 20, 2016

Addressing the unique needs of the long-term unemployed

A Renewal Award-winning program gives participants the confidence and skills to get back into the workforce

Platform to Employment honored several graduates of its program in September. Photo courtesy of The WorkPlace


Earlier this year The WorkPlace was honored with a Renewal Award, presented by Allstate and Atlantic Media. The inaugural event named six organizations that are creating solutions to the country’s most pressing issues.

We are several years removed from the recession and still millions of Americans remain out of work for more than six months. The long-term unemployed come from all walks of life and they all face the same hiring challenges: skills have atrophied or are no longer relevant and declining marketability in a highly competitive job market. Conventional workforce development programs do not adequately address the unique needs of this population. They were designed to respond to traditional, short-term unemployment in a steadily growing economy. Platform to Employment (P2E) was created by The WorkPlace in response to the social challenges, emotional needs, and skill deficiencies of the long-term unemployed, and a need for responsive market-based incentive programs for employers.

P2E begins with a five-week preparatory program that provides the long-term unemployed with career readiness workshops, employee assistance programs, and career coaching. Upon completion, participants are placed with a business on a trial basis, subsidized by The WorkPlace. This work experience becomes an extended interview where there is no risk to the employer and the long-term unemployed are given an opportunity to demonstrate they can compete.

Since 2011, when the program began in Connecticut, we have conducted 58 cohorts of approximately 20 participants in each cohort. We select participants from a diverse pool of candidates including urban and suburban populations as well as varied levels of education and work experience.

The results of P2E are incomparable. Nearly 80 percent of Connecticut participants that completed the preparatory program took the next step into a work experience at a local company. Of this population, nearly 90 percent moved to employer payrolls. P2E is operating statewide in Connecticut, and has placed more than 850 people in jobs.

The WorkPlace gained the support of local workforce development boards across the country. These organizations oversee the operations of the local American Job Centers in their regions. The common experience and expertise of the boards and the American Job Center network make P2E and the principles it is based on easily transferable to other locations. The program has been successfully replicated in 23 cities including Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and San Diego, and state-wide in Rhode Island.

Most recently we piloted P2E projects with distinct populations struggling to find employment such as young workers and veterans. Both initiatives have shown promise. Going forward we will explore how P2E can assist foreign-born workers who are unable to advance beyond entry level positions. Lastly, P2E classrooms cannot extend to all communities. To improve outreach, we are building an online presence for P2E where job seekers will access customized content, resources and connect with others for peer support.

Through P2E we are helping those without hope, overcome barriers and realize the American promise of opportunity. There are millions of Americans on involuntary, part-time work and nearly 2 million more marginally attached to the labor force. Transformations to the workforce system such as P2E can provide a valuable resource for employers and create a steady flow of people back into the workforce with the knowledge that they are prepared to compete.

Joe Carbone

President and CEO of The WorkPlace

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