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Power of Place: Hosting Platform 2 Employment (P2E)

Bridgeport Public Library
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Innovation Summary

The WorkPlace developed Platform 2 Employment (P2E) to address the need for the long term unemployed to return to work and the employer need to recruit skilled workers. The program is a public-private partnership which gives businesses a risk-free opportunity to evaluate and consider hiring participants during an eight-week work experience program. As a pilot program, P2E focused on employment for 100 of our 99er's. It began with a 5 week preparatory program designed to address the social, emotional and skill deficiencies caused by long term employment. Upon program completion, participants were matched with open positions at local companies. P2E program doesn't only benefit the long-term unemployed. It also benefits employers because The WorkPlace pays the salary of a new hire for eight weeks, giving employers a risk-free way to determine if the new employee is a good match. The expectation is that if the company is satisfied with the performance of the candidate, a full-time job will ensue.

Innovation Leader: Scott Hughes, City Librarian, shughes@bridgeportpubliclibrary.org

Problem Statement

Nationally, nearly 3 million people have exhausted unemployment benefits, and 75,000 people in Connecticut will be in that position by October, according to Joseph M. Carbone, president and CEO of The WorkPlace - one of the five Regional Workforce Development Boards in Connecticut. Carbone – who is trying to change the way we think about long-term unemployment – states the problem best: “I didn’t really understand much about 99ers except I knew they must have been hurting. I got an e-mail one day from Connecticut’s acting commissioner of labor in May 2010. It said, ‘On May 15, 12,000 people in Connecticut will lose their UI benefits [having exhausted 99 weeks of benefits], and therefore I’m going to put a police officer at all the One-Stops [state unemployment offices] in Connecticut beginning on that day.’ I thought, these people are going to be losing their benefits, they’ve been out of work for two years and the remedy is a police officer at the One-Stops. From that day on I got myself involved emotionally and otherwise into the issue.”

Innovation

The only problem was that the Work Place didn’t have the space needed to launch the P2E - the first and only program of its kind in the country. Carbone approached Bridgeport city librarian Scott Hughes in the summer of 2011 to host the inaugural class of Platform 2 Employment (P2E) at the Bridgeport Public Library. The Bridgeport Public Library provided free class space, equipment and technology for presentations, access to computer labs and free off street parking at the Main Library in Downtown Bridgeport. The class began in early fall 2011.

Progress

Platform to Employment (P2E) hit a milestone, 70% employed in good jobs and potential careers. It’s now a National Movement and P2E has become the icon of hope for the millions of Americans who are long term unemployed. The 99er’s can regain their footing and be competitive candidates for jobs in our country. They need the American workforce system through the nearly 3000 One-Stops coast to coast, to provide a P2E experience for all long term unemployed. P2E was featured on 60 Minutes on Sunday, February 19, 2012 and the Workplace has since raised more than $500,000 to continue the program.