Connecticut Economic Resource Center
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Helping the 99ers (the Long Term Unemployed)


60 Minutes recently did a story about the plight of the long term unemployed and the success of the Platform to Employment program run by Joe Carbone, president of The Workplace in Bridgeport. Journalist Scott Pelley interviewed a number of people, most of which were middle-aged and college educated, who articulated their stories of varied work experiences and the frustration of not finding employment. They are referred to as 99ers since their unemployment benefits have run out. In addition to the financial and emotional strains, they have run into discrimination as many employer ads state they "must be currently employed," while some employers assume that those out of work for an extended period may not really want to work or have employment issues.

The story impressed me as Joe Carbone described their situation his empathy and passion for these individuals is evident. He is very concerned that we are losing a large number of talented people that the U.S cannot afford to ignore.

The Platform to Employment is a model that other workforce boards across the country could duplicate. They run a boot camp that gives the job applicants an opportunity for guidance on such things as interviewing, improving their resumes and especially encouraging them with a renewed sense of dignity and purpose. Applicants have been placed in paid internships at no cost to the employer, and to date, out of 100 participants, 53 were offered jobs an impressive number considering the circumstances and their past job search experiences.

As I watched the telecast I was happy to see that a Connecticut program was making a difference and hope others (including those moved by the same story) will be motivated to consider starting similar programs. As he did to initiate this program, Joe Carbone continues to seek donations from local companies and individuals to sustain their efforts.

The Workplace received more than 350 calls after the 60 Minutes segment ran from people seeking employment, companies with job openings, and businesses or individuals willing to support the program. In addition, organizations across the country called to get more information about the program as they seek to help the unemployed.

Kudos to Joe and his Workplace team!

- Connie Maffeo, CERC, Director of Connecticut's Business Response Center


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