Platform to Employment, the nationally recognized program to help the longtime unemployed get back to work, is pivoting this month to a new version designed to assist job-seekers who have lost employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new iteration Platform to Employment 2.0 (P2E 2.0) — like the first, the brainchild of Bridgeport-based The WorkPlace — is a virtual program designed to reconnect displaced workers in the region with employers seeking skilled talent.
Through an online program with approximately 20 participants per class, P2E 2.0 will offer a three-phase approach to respond to the needs of the unemployed. Throughout the program participants will receive mentoring, access to a support services concierge, career counseling, and job placement assistance.
“The original version was launched in 2011, in response to the Great Recession,” WorkPlace President and CEO Joseph Carbone said. “It was geared mostly to the 50-and-older population, and crossed many business sectors.
“This group is a different story entirely,” he said. “Those filing for unemployment benefits have by and large been younger and coming largely from hospitality — including hotels and restaurants — retail and lower health care workers.”
Also different, of course, are the circumstances of the two job-losing events. Recessions develop over time, and can to a degree be forecast, while the pandemic “was completely unpredictable, and started days after the greatest jobs report in our country’s history,” Carbone said.
Since March 1, about 75,000 unemployment claims have been processed for residents in Southwestern Connecticut, he added; The WorkPlace estimates that while the majority of workers laid off during the recession were primarily aged 50 and older, some 80% of those unemployed due to the coronavirus are under 50.
“In some cases, those people will be called back to work quickly — we hope,” Carbone said.
“The longer people are out of work, the more complacent they become,” Carbone said. “They can start to lose contact with some of their basic skills and can get depressed.”
So it is that the five-week P2E 2.0 will provide emotional coping skills as well as job training in its first phase. Its second phase will educate participants on understanding and getting prepared for returning to work in potentially a new type of job — including technology — as well as full-time, part-time, short-term “gig” and project-based work, and learning current, effective job search strategies.
The third phase will support those who could benefit from upgrading skills through short-term occupational skill training.
Carbone noted that P2E 2.0 is being launched as a pilot program around June 15, after which it could be expanded around the region and the country, as happened with the original version.
He predicts great things: “We have a rate of success of about 78%.”
The program, free for participants, also covers the wages of the newly hired during a trial period, to help assure employers “that they’re not taking a great risk by hiring them,” Carbone said.
For all the optimistic talk, he acknowledged that P2E 2.0 will not be a cure-all.
“A lot of those who are unemployed right now, particularly the younger workers, think they’ll get called back immediately — well, they’re not all going to be called back immediately,” Carbone said. “There can be a sort of laziness there — ‘Oh, I’ll eventually go back to work.’ That’s not necessarily true.”
Applications for P2E 2.0 can be found at platformtoemployment.com, while additional information can be found by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 203-610-8516.