BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — In some ways, the individuals gathered at the Burroughs Community Center in Bridgeport on Monday couldn’t have been more diverse.
They hail from Greenwich, Bridgeport, Ridgefield and beyond. There was a market researcher, a landscaper, an IT professional and a special education teacher.
The one thing that unites them? They have all been unemployed for a significant time — some for years — and they’re eager to get back work.
And that’s why they’ve joined Platform to Employment (P2E), an innovative, five-week program that aims to get the long-term unemployed back to work and provide employers with a risk-free trial with skilled potential employees.
Created by The WorkPlace, the program kicked off a new cohort of 25 hopefuls Monday. Each participant has been out of work for at least six months and has exhausted unemployment benefits.
The daily preparatory program addresses social, emotional and skill deficiencies that can come with long-term unemployment. Participants look at their resumes with fresh eyes and practice interviewing on camera to catch their strengths and weaknesses.
“No one grows when they’re standing still,” said Adrienne Dean-Parkmond, chief operating officer. Participants should be prepared to step outside their comfort zones and try new things, she said.
After the five weeks, participants are matched with open positions at local companies on an eight-week trial basis. Salaries are funded through The WorkPlace, which receives substantial state funding, said Joseph Carbone, president and CEO.
The program’s success rate is notable: Last year, 85 percent of P2E participants found full-time work, compared with the estimated 20 percent of those who have exhausted unemployment benefits and found work on their own, Carbone said.
In its first five years, P2E has grown into a national initiative with programs in 12 states, Carbone said.
One of the keys is working with companies offering full-time work. The number of jobs in America can be deceptive, Carbone said. About 28 million Americans are working part time, but about 7 million of those would prefer full-time work, Carbone said.
“Embrace this program,” Carbone told the new group. “This process works quickly and it works well.”
Visit The WorkPlace’s website for information on upcoming P2E programs.
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