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Workforce Development Programs Offer Solutions to Long-Term Unemployment

Platform to Employment(NEW YORK) -- Six million Americans -- many of them older -- have been out of work so long (two years or more) that they have exhausted all their unemployment benefits.

Many have depleted their savings, and they have little hope of landing a job, partly because employers discriminate against them.

But Joe Carbone thinks he's found a solution to their problem: P2E.

Carbone is CEO of The Workplace, a work force development program in Connecticut that serves the needs of employers and job-seekers alike.  Two years ago, under Carbone's leadership, it came up with "Platform to Employment" (P2E), a five-week find-a-job program tailored to the older, long-term unemployed.

The total number of graduates so far is small -- only 131.  But P2E's record of success is so impressive -- 87 percent of graduates have found full-time work -- that a consortium of employers, philanthropies and interest groups, including AARP, Walmart and Citigroup, are now poised to clone P2E and roll it out across 10 cities.

The fist clone opened in Dallas two weeks ago. The second will open Monday in Cincinatti.  After that, additional offices will open at the rate of one a month in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and other cities.

During each five-week program, 20 people at a time are coached on skills such as public speaking and self-presentation.  Therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists help promote self esteem and self confidence.  Financial counselors help participants repair their credit ratings and get their finances in order.  Finally, P2E helps match graduates with job openings.

The cost per student runs about $6,000, says Carbone, with the money coming mostly from donations.  The amount includes a subsidy that allows a potential employer to "test drive" a graduate at no cost -- during the test period, P2E is paying the graduate's salary, not the potential employer.  The expectation is that somebody who performs well and meets expectations will then be offered a full-time job on the employer's payroll.  This approach, says Carbone, has opened doors for an older, long-term unemployed candidate.

Carbone views the addition of each new P2E center not just as an opportunity to put people to work but also as an opportunity to educate employers and the public about the depth of the plight of the long-term unemployed.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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