PRLog - Feb. 4, 2013 - BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The WorkPlace and Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas, with the support of AARP Foundation, Citi Community Development and the Walmart Foundation announce the national expansion of the highly successful Platform to Employment (P2E) program beginning in Dallas, Texas. This is the first of 10 sites across the country that will replicate P2E in 2013. The program creates a pathway to employment for the long-term unemployed. With 4.8 million Americans unemployed for 27 weeks or longer in December, long-term unemployment remains a significant concern to reviving the American economy and strengthening our communities.
“The issue of the long-term unemployed is critical with over 27,000 people in Dallas County exhausting their unemployment benefits in 2012. Because of the urgency to restore the long-term unemployed to the labor force, I strongly believe it is only through public-private partnership such as this one that we can provide individuals with the information, skills and advice they need to overcome economic hurdles and build a sound foundation for the future,” said Dallas Mayor, Mike Rawlings.
P2E, which began in southwestern Connecticut, will address the specific needs of unemployed workers over 50 and military veterans. The program is a proven model that demonstrates that the right job readiness programming, combined with personal and family support services and financial counseling, can return the long-term unemployed to the workforce. Tested in multiple cohorts, including participants from urban and suburban communities, P2E has placed more than 70% of program participants into work experience programs, with nearly 90% of these individuals moving on to full-time employment.
AARP Foundation will provide a grant to specifically recruit and serve long-term unemployed workers who are over 50 years of age. This population continues to spend longer periods of time looking for work and securing a stable income. AARP Foundation is working to reverse the downward spiral that many older Americans and their families face.
“Today, Americans 50+ face choices and pressures no one could have prepared for,” said Jo Ann Jenkins, AARP Foundation President. “Job loss and long-term unemployment among those 50 and older have wiped out retirements savings and caused any hopes of a secure financial future to fade. AARP Foundation is pleased to support the expansion of Platform to Employment to help put people 50+ back to work in good jobs in their communities and pave the way to a brighter and more secure future.”
With support from Citi Community Development, P2E participants will receive financial counseling and credit rebuilding assistance so they are better equipped to face the significant financial challenges many families confront during extended periods of unemployment. Financial counseling will be provided by YW Financial Empowerment. This training is essential at a time when many are financially overextended and have endured a reduction in regular income, or have none at all. “Platform to Employment has proven success in focusing on the needs of those who often worked for decades before becoming long-term unemployed and who now face significant challenges in securing employment while also managing a different household financial situation,” said Bob Annibale, Citi’s Global Director of Community Development. “Citi is pleased to work with the program’s other supporters in building the capacity of The WorkPlace to bring this essential program to the greater Dallas area and to support unemployed Texans in rebuilding their professional and financial identities.”
With additional support from the Walmart Foundation, P2E will provide services to veterans, with a deliberate focus on including women veterans, returning to the civilian workforce in Dallas as well as the subsequent replication sites. The unemployment rate for veterans has remained much higher than the national average, as service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have struggled to find work. The unemployment rate for veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan stood at 10.8 percent in December, compared with the overall unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.
In addition to career opportunities for veterans and military families, Walmart recently announced that over the next five years, it will hire 100,000 veterans who honorably left the military in the last year. Walmart is already the largest private employer of veterans in the country. The program, which will start on Memorial Day, will include jobs mostly in Walmart stores or Sam's Club locations.
“As one of the nation’s largest private employers of veterans and those on active duty, we share The WorkPlace’s vision of a country where every veteran has a chance to succeed economically and support his or her family,” said retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Gary Profit, senior director of military programs at Walmart. “Walmart is committed to making that vision a reality by supporting organizations and programs that provide job and skills training to our veterans. These young men and women stood up for us, and now it’s our turn to stand up for them.”
Platform to Employment offers a five week preparatory program which includes workshops on resume writing, interview preparation, self-marketing and other skills. Additionally, each participant and their family have access to behavioral health services and counseling. Following the preparatory program, participants are then matched with employers who have job openings. P2E enables employers to have a risk free evaluation of participants during an eight week trial period where wages are subsidized by The WorkPlace.
“The Dallas market is thriving and is fortunate to experience far less unemployment than many parts of the country. The figures, however, are less favorable for workers over a certain age, and they require far more assistance to regain their place in the workforce. Experience and maturity are often overlooked in the on-line application process which is an integral part of screening today’s job applicants. The WorkPlace addresses the challenge with a personal approach that connects employers to this valuable and often overlooked resource. We are excited about applying their proven program to the Dallas market” said Laurie Bouillion Larrea, President Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas.