Legislators recently praised a program pioneered in Fairfield County that helps Connecticut residents return to work and addresses employer needs to recruit skilled workers.
The Bridgeport-based Platform to Employment — aka P2E — brought its quarterly graduation ceremony to the state Capitol in Hartford recently. The graduates constituted the third of four cohorts of P2E participants in 2014-15.
The state is spending $3.6 million on Platform to Employment this year. The funds allowed Platform to Employment to expand from southwestern Connecticut into the entire state. In doing so, Platform to Employment became the nation’s first statewide effort to help the long-term unemployed prepare for and find jobs.
Like other legislators, state Rep. Mitch Bolinsky, R-Newtown, told the P2E graduates about his own painful experience with long-term unemployment. “I am one of you. I am with you,” he said.
Created by The WorkPlace, a Bridgeport not-for-profit, P2E has developed a strong track record turning long-term unemployed residents into employed citizens, it reported. Of those who graduated in October 2014 with the program’s first cohort, 87 percent now have full-time jobs. Of those who graduated in January with the second cohort, 79 percent have jobs. Of the third round of graduates, more than one-third already have jobs.
Joseph M. Carbone, president and CEO of The WorkPlace, said his organization will back every graduate until each of them finds a job.