Comments Requested on Local Workforce Plan
The WorkPlace, southwestern Connecticut’s regional Workforce Development Board conducts comprehensive planning, and coordinates regional workforce development programs. As one of five Workforce ... Continue
The WorkPlace, southwestern Connecticut’s regional Workforce Development Board conducts comprehensive planning, and coordinates regional workforce development programs. As one of five Workforce Development Boards in the state, we continue to prepare people for careers while strengthening the workforce for employers.
The WorkPlace is preparing a comprehensive 5-year local plan and requests your feedback on its design and content. This document is being submitted to the governor as part of the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, DOL Employment Services and Connecticut Employment and Training Commission’s effort to strategically align workforce strategies.
The plan can be found on the homepage of The WorkPlace website or by clicking here. After reviewing the document, please complete a brief questionnaire. Your candid and thoughtful reply will help our evaluation and plan development. Most people are able to complete the questionnaire in a few brief minutes. After the results are tabulated and compiled, we will issue the plan.
Thanks in advance for your time and assistance.
YouthWorks 2013 Summer Earn and Learn Program Application - Accepted until May 24, 4pm EST
The YouthWorks - 2013 Earn & Learn Summer Employment program is a WorkPlace Opportunity. In southwestern Connecticut, the YouthWorks - 2013 Earn & Learn Summer Employment program will give pr ... Continue
The YouthWorks - 2013 Earn & Learn Summer Employment program is a WorkPlace Opportunity.
In southwestern Connecticut, the YouthWorks - 2013 Earn & Learn Summer Employment program will give priority to the neediest youth. The program will pay youth (ages 14-21) for up to 20 hours per week for up to 7 weeks starting in July 2013. Federal guidelines and eligibility requirements must be met in order for youth to participate in the program.
In past years, the summer job they received through The WorkPlace was their first meaningful and paid work experience. The youth who were accepted into the program (having met all eligibility requirements) completed a full week of “work readiness” workshops to ensure they would know what is expected in professional work environments. Once they began their new jobs, they learned on-the-job skills under the supervision of their work sites. Whether in a law office, hospital, manufacturing plant, small business, government agency, or non-profit, their work often helped employers tackle projects that would not otherwise have been completed. A number of the older youth have received job offers for full-time year-round jobs, a key indicator that their employers were pleased with the experience. This would have been possible without the support of local employers.
Click here to apply online for the 2013 Earn & Learn Summer Employment program. Please note that applications will be accepted until 4pm EST on Friday, May 24, 2013. Applications completed after that time will not be accepted or considered.Close
Sky Valley Chronicle: The Dirty Little Secret of Improving Unemployment
May 5, 2013 - Sky Valley Chronicle article (NATIONAL) -- You may have heard the good news this week about the improving employment picture for Americans in the still fragile economic recovery from th ... Continue
May 5, 2013 - Sky Valley Chronicle article
(NATIONAL) -- You may have heard the good news this week about the improving employment picture for Americans in the still fragile economic recovery from the brutal Great Recession.
The latest report from the Labor Department Friday seemed to bolster the theory that the U.S. job market is improving despite higher taxes and government spending cuts that took effect this year.
U.S. employers added 165,000 jobs in April and hiring was much stronger in the previous two months than the government first estimated.
Those job increases helped reduce the unemployment rate from 7.6 percent to a four-year low of 7.5 percent.
The only sectors of the economy that cut jobs last month were construction and government.
But behind those rosy numbers lies a dirty little secret: capitalism seems to have no further use for anyone over the age of 55.
A charge that sounds a bit strong? Go talk with someone 55 and older who has been looking for a job.
OVER 55 AND LOOKING FOR WORK: A STRUGGLE
A new report by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) says that despite the rosier jobs picture in April, for those Americans ages 55 or older who have been unemployed long-term, "the prospect of finding work is greatly limited."
And that may be putting it mildly.
A recent PBS report centered on "The Work Place," a job training center in Bridgeport, Connecticut and the report highlights the massive hurdle that older workers are up against in an American economy where employers seem to want only the youngest, cheapest workers they can find.
Joe Carbone runs The Workplace and he knows what these people are up against. " I was unemployed once for eight-and-a-half months. I used to drive 20 miles to do a little grocery shopping so I wouldn't meet anybody who would be able to look at me and ask, “Did you get a job yet?” So, I know what it can do," said Carbone to PBS.
One woman sitting at the table with Carbone said, "I have been on the Internet daily, all day, eight hours a day. I can't find anything."
The reality for the over-55 worker is scary and even scarier for the more than four million Americans who remain out of work six months or more.
"For those 55 and older, it takes about a year on average to find work, longer than for any other age group," says the PBS report.
Joe Carbone: "They're carrying a double whammy, not just the long-term unemployment, but they're 50 and older. It makes things that are bad even worse."
THE FIRST TO GO, LAST TO COME BACK
From the report:
Fifty-nine-year-old facilities manager Frank Rende lost his job four years ago. Rende says, "We got here in the first place because we were in the highest salary range. We were the first to go. We're going to be the last to come back."
Software developer Geoffrey Weglarz, 55, has been looking for two years. He says he's applied for 481 jobs.
Weglarz says none of those applications has produced a thing because,"They (employers) think that anybody over a certain age is going to be used up."
Asked if she thinks employers are purposely trying to screen out older workers from being hired, unsuccessful job seeker Debora Ducksworth says, "Exactly. And now I'm thinking, I'm going to be 60 in October. Is anyone ever going to hire me?"
Is it age discrimination? Boston College did a survey a few years ago where they asked Human Resources people how they viewed older workers. The survey found that " human resource managers were skeptical of workers like those in Bridgeport. They said they worried about their ability to learn new things, about their physical stamina and basically how long are they going to stay."
Essentially the HR types, when looking at the whole picture of "their assessment of older workers, you really wouldn't go out of your way to hire one."
And there's another reason employers might not want to hire an older worker: If things don't work out, will they be sued?
Mary Corbin thinks so. She believes that age is the reason she was let go a year-and-a-half ago. "No one under 50 was laid off, and it was a large amount of people. In the package that they gave everyone, they emphasized, for signing the package, you will not come back and sue us for age discrimination," said Corbin.
There's yet another strike against the older worker who needs a job just as badly as a younger person needs one.
Some employers say the older worker gets "more expensive on the health care front just because they have more ailments," according to the report.
AND ALL THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR A VERY LONG TIME
According to unemployment stats from January of 2011, "Thirty percent of those who are jobless have been unemployed a year or more (long-term unemployment) as of December 2010. Equaling 4.2 million people — roughly the population of Kentucky — this is 25 percent more people affected by long-term unemployment than a year prior (December 2009, 3.4 million)….Using the CPS data, Pew calculated that the persistent problem of long-term unemployment is occurring across education and age groups but those who are older than 55 are most likely to remain jobless for a year or more.
Additionally, a high level of education only provides limited protection against long-term unemployment — the rates are similar across degree attainment: 31 percent of unemployed workers with a bachelor’s degree have been out of work for a year or more, compared to 36 percent of high school graduates and 33 percent of high school drop-outs."
In May of last year a Forbes report said, "Talk about the dangers of losing your job at age 50 plus. Older workers who lost their jobs during the Great Recession experienced steep pay cuts when they became reemployed...if they were lucky enough to get new jobs at all.
Median monthly earnings declined 23 percent after an unemployment spell for reemployed workers aged 50 to 61, compared with just 11 percent for workers aged 25 to 34, according to the Urban Institute report. For workers 62 and older, post-unemployment earnings plummeted nearly in half (47%), although most of the decline in that age group stemmed from a shift toward part-time employment. “For many workers laid off during and after the Great Recession, the financial ramifications of job loss may persist for the rest of their lives,” the report, Age Disparities in Unemployment and Reemployment during the Great Recession and Recovery, by Richard W. Johnson and Barbara A. Butrica, concludes.
So what happens to the older worker as the worker goes month after month with no job, sometimes stretching into a year or more?
They go through all their savings and 401K retirement plans. That's what happened to older worker Geoffrey Weglarz. He went through everything and then said, "My last unemployment check is next week. I have about $2,000 dollars to my name, and, after that, I don't know...I have no fallback position. I'm behind on my mortgage. I'm on food stamps, and I'm on financial hardship for both electricity and for gas."
Joe Carbone who runs The Workplace notes, "We have got special programs here for veterans, and we should, for people with disabilities, and we should, you know, for dislocated workers, and we should. We see a new population that are unemployable because of the length of their unemployment occurring during the worst recession since the Great Depression, and we're just ignoring them, ignoring them.
I can't tell you what that does to me. I love this country so much, but I can't imagine that we would ever leave any of our citizens, any of our brothers and sisters, to be part of a process that's declaring them hopeless. And that's what's going on."
The full PBS report can be found here.Close
PBS NewsHour: Brutal Job Search Reality for Older Americans Out of Work for Six Months or More
May 3 - Despite a rosier jobs picture in April, for Americans ages 55 or older who have been unemployed long-term, the prospect of finding work is greatly limited. Economic correspondent Paul Sol ... Continue
May 3 - Despite a rosier jobs picture in April, for Americans ages 55 or older who have been unemployed long-term, the prospect of finding work is greatly limited. Economic correspondent Paul Solman explores why older workers face joblessness and considerable financial strain. Click here to watch the video. Close
Progress Illinois: Job Assistance For Veterans And Long-Term Unemployed Comes To Chicago
May 2 - Progress Illinois article Upon returning home last year from serving two years in the U.S. Army, Asma Njesada said her greatest challenge was finding a job. “I couldn’t underst ... Continue
May 2 - Progress Illinois article
Upon returning home last year from serving two years in the U.S. Army, Asma Njesada said her greatest challenge was finding a job.Close
“I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me,” said the 25 year-old Dallas resident.
After being unemployed for more than six months, Njesada turned to Platform to Employment (P2E) for help.
P2E provides veterans and the long-term unemployed with job training and placement. The initiative launched a nationwide pilot program this year, and started accepting applications in Chicago last month.
The WorkPlace, southwestern Connecticut’s regional Workforce Development Board, started the program back in 2011 and it expanded to Dallas in February. Njesada took a five-week preparation course via the P2E program and was connected with a personal job developer who helped her improve her interviewing skills.
“The program changed my life,” she said.
On May 27, Njesada was hired-on as a human resources manager for Baker Brother Services (BBS), a company that provides accounting and human resources services to Home Depot.
“It’s a great feeling to be in the workforce again,” Njesada said. “Having a career is very important to me.”
In Illinois, the program is looking for applicants who are at least 50 years-old and have exhausted 26 weeks or more of unemployment. The Illinois program is also being offered to veterans that are aged 30 and under. Applications for Illinois residents are being accepted until May 10.
There are 24 available slots and classes are scheduled to start May 20.
“We need to get people back to work in a way that we haven’t done before,” said Karin Norington-Reaves, chief executive officer of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership. According to Norington-Reaves, Chicagoland’s P2E program has already received more than 600 applications.
The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership is partnering with The WorkPlace to bring P2E to the Chicagoland area.
Norington-Reaves said individuals who haven’t been in the workforce for an extended period of time, such as veterans and the long-term unemployed, face unique barriers such as unfamiliarity with online applications and social media.
“If you haven’t been in the workforce for a long time and haven’t been in the process of trying to enter the workforce for a long time ... You’ve really got to get a new understanding of how to get through the process just to get hired,” she said.
As of last year, unemployment rates for people between the ages of 50 and 65 had more than doubled since the 2008 economic downturn. That demographic saw the largest increases in unemployment during the recession.
Unemployment rates for veterans are also staggeringly high, reaching an average of 9.9 percent in 2012, which is well above last year’s national average of 8.1 percent. As of January, 205,000 of the veterans that served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were unemployed.
“Nobody in this program is handed a job, or guaranteed a job, but what we’re trying to do is get people ready to go out and demonstrate to an employer they have value and should be considered,” said Tom Long, the vice president of communications and development for The WorkPlace.
The five-week course offers interviewing techniques, networking development, resume building exercises, financial education and behavioral health services, which are also offered to the participants’ families. Each participant is assigned a personal job developer upon completion of the course. The developer's job is to help the participant set-up interviews and also coach them through the application process.
The program also offers up to eight weeks of partial wage reimbursement for employers.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has signed on to help fund the P2E fund program, specifically for the training of the long-term unemployed who are aged 50 older. The Walmart Foundation is supporting the training for veterans and Citi Community Development is providing financial education.
The first P2E program in Bridgeport, Connecticut saw 65 of 100 participants permanently placed in jobs. This year, the program has expanded to Dallas, Boston, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, San Francisco, San Diego, Cincinnati and Chicago.
“There is a significant demand for initiatives such as this in Chicagoland,” said Norington-Reaves. “Our intent is to use this as an opportunity to try and garner additional attention and funds to support this initiative and eventually make it a sustainable program."
With the curriculum based off Connecticut’s pioneer program, Chicago’s classes, which run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, are being hosted at Chicago's DeVry University, at 225 West Washington St.
Njesada if it hadn’t been for P2E she doesn’t know where she would be today, adding that her job provides her a “decent wage” and health insurance.
“When I got out of the military I was very optimistic about finding a job, but after months and months past I lost hope,” she said. “The P2E program really boosted by confidence.”
“P2E gave me what I needed to find what I was looking for — I feel normal again.”
FOXBusiness: Long-Term Unemployed: Hidden and Hurt
Published April 24, 2013 by Christina Scotti Two men named Bob. Both are over fifty. Both had been working consistently for nearly three decades before losing their jobs in 2009. Both were out of wor ... Continue
Published April 24, 2013 by Christina Scotti
Two men named Bob. Both are over fifty. Both had been working consistently for nearly three decades before losing their jobs in 2009. Both were out of work for more than 99 weeks.
Now there is one glaring difference. Bob Greeney is employed. Bob Sullivan is still fighting to get back into the workforce.
Friendly and candid, the 61-year-old Mr. Sullivan worked in the travel hospitality industry until his former company closed its Boston branch. After taking a brief pause to care for his mother, he said he went through job agencies, attended job fairs and applied to scores of jobs online.
“Still, no bites,” said Mr. Sullivan, whose ongoing search, day in and day out, continues. “It’s just a malaise you fall into. It’s like having a slow disease, especially if you get rejected or don’t hear back.”
The battle to get back to work is indisputably grueling, and Mr. Sullivan and the other roughly 4.7 million people who have been unemployed for over six months know all too well that as each month goes by the stigma of long-term unemployment can make it increasingly more challenging to find work
“If someone is out of work for a while the perception from employers is that there must be something wrong with you, and after a couple of years the people themselves begin to believe they don’t have any value, that it’s over for them,” said Joe Carbone, creator of Platform to Employment, a five-week program that focuses on retraining and placing “99ers” into eight-week internships with the possibility of that turning into a job. The term “99ers” refers to those out of work for 99 weeks or longer and whose unemployment benefits have run out.
“We don’t see bread lines. But that despair is there, it’s just behind closed doors,” said Mr. Carbone.
Hopelessness, coupled with the waiting, rejection and the isolation that’s often associated with long-term unemployment, are not the only issues this group faces. Simply applying to open job postings in the first place isn’t always a given. Employers looking to hire can legally discriminate against the long-term unemployed.
“Telling a person, ‘don’t apply if you’re out of work,’ was widespread,’’ said Mr. Carbone, who is also president of The WorkPlace, a non-profit devoted to assisting the long-term unemployed. “But the companies who still do it have become wiser and try to put a positive spin on it by saying ‘must be employed’ instead.”
Mr. Greeney spent twenty-nine years as a sports writer for a number of local newspapers before being let go as part of the consolidation effort after The Stamford Advocate was bought by Hearst Media four years ago.
“I naively thought I’d be okay,” said Mr. Greeney, 55. “I knew I was a hard worker, that I could multitask, deal with deadlines and deal with people.”
He said he was disheartened to realize that most workers over 50 are not given the chance to reinvent themselves in a new career, and that the job market, which has roughly 300 job applicants for every one job opening, was so stagnant.
“June 24th, 2009 until May 2nd, 2012. I was out of work for 1,044 days,” he said.
Finally, in May 2012, three years after being laid off and following a round of testing and interviews, Mr. Greeney got a job as a Metro North ticket collector in New York City. Mr. Greeney, who was connected to his current employer through the Platform to Employment program, said he was grateful for the opportunity.
“It was my first, best and only offer I got,” said Mr. Greeney, who went without insurance after his Cobra coverage ran out in October 2010.
Taking a job outside your chosen industry was not always encouraged, said Mr. Carbone. But now it’s not even a question.
“Once you’re in a job, you’re in an entirely different category with better job options in the future,” he said.
According to the numbers, the pervasiveness of long-term unemployment cuts through all walks of life, with gender, race and education all having a relatively similar percentage among the long-term unemployed.
The only group that stands out among the long-term unemployed is older workers, with almost half of the 3.5 million currently out of work for over a year at 45 or older, according to the Department of Labor.
“It’s not new that older workers have a more challenging time,” said Joan Cirillo, the president of Operation ABLE, a Boston-based non-profit helping the 45 and older age bracket. She explained that in the last four years they’ve seen things become increasingly dire for more people.
“There are a lot of pre-retirees who would have liked to retire but lost a big portion of their portfolio,” she said. “And those who don’t find anything wind up living a limited life, tapping into their 401k and many then becoming discouraged workers.”
The number of “discouraged workers,” which describes those who want to work but have given up on ever finding employment, is currently 6.8 million, according to a new report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP). And while these people are not counted in the official unemployment rate, the group continues to grow.
“This situation is exactly what you would expect given how bad the recession was and how weak the recovery has been,” said Heidi Shierholz, an economist from the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.
She said that while ‘technology taking over’ and ‘doing more with less manpower’ are two popular conversation pieces, neither narrative is particularly true.
“It really captures the imagination of public discourse, but if people were really doing more with less we’d see an acceleration of productivity growth,” said Ms. Shierholz. “The real reason there isn’t a pickup in hiring is employers are not seeing the demand.
The proposal to raise minimum wage, according to Ms. Shierholz, is also not a big job killer, though it might seem threatening. Citing a Center for Economic and Policy Research study by John Schmitt, she said the findings conclude, “that the minimum wage has little or no discernible effect on the employment prospects of low-wage workers.”
Ms. Shierholz said the best way to alleviate the anguish would be if the government stepped in with fiscal stimulus because with interest rates at near zero and so many austerity measures in place, including recent cuts from sequestration, she believes government intervention is the only way to spur much-needed growth in the economy.
“[Long-term unemployment] is a total human disaster,” said Ms. Shierholz. “Letting this huge group of people languish, it’s a huge, glaring symptom of needing to get jobs back more broadly.”
At both Platform to Employment and Operation ABLE, a primary focus is addressing the emotional needs of the long-term unemployed: the crippling loss of confidence that plays deeply into the psyches of so many.
Mr. Carbone, P2E’s creator, knows firsthand how it feels to be out of work. He said 16 years ago he was laid off and during his time between jobs he would travel twenty miles from his home so that he wouldn’t have to go to his local grocery where he knew people.
“My wife got concerned when I started watching soap operas instead of cleaning up the house,” said Mr. Carbone. “You just begin to lose that element of faith in yourself. You’re suffering from a deprivation of hope.”
The Platform to Employment is trying to revive that hope, and soon its training program, which is free to those who are accepted, is going to be offered in 10 different cities across the U.S. with a focus on helping people 50 and older. (AARP is one of the sponsors.)
Operation ABLE, which offers 6-13 week retraining classes that teach everything from computer and interviewing skills to getting internships to actually finding a job, is steadfast in its role.
“We work with them until they find work,” said Mr. Cirillo. “We stick with them like glue and see the training as a means to an end -- and the end is a good job.”
Bob Sullivan is currently enrolled in one of Operation ABLE’s training programs that was paid for through SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. The former travel representative is eager for any type of work.
“I enjoy working with the public and I’m good with customer service,” said Mr. Sullivan. “I am very reliable and I still feel very young.”
Bob Greeney also feels young -- especially now that he no longer has the stress of finding work weighing down on him.
“Every day it was ‘Am I going to get hired? Will I ever get hired?’” said Mr. Greeney. “So after my interview with Metro North, I walked down to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and said a prayer.”
Mr. Greeney found out he got the job right before Christmas, on his mother’s seventy-ninth birthday. (He was hired in December 2011, but did not officially start until May 2012.)
“It was fantastic. There had been a lot of despair and she felt like her prayers had been answered,” he said.
Four years after the official end of this recession, Mr. Carbone said there needs to be more done surrounding this issue -- in both preventing discrimination through legislation and incentivizing companies to hire the long-term unemployed.
“We can’t give up,” he said. “As this economy gets back on its feet, sometimes I think [the long-term unemployed] are the sacrificial lambs and by being passive and not speaking out in support, it makes us all complicit in their demise, and there is something very un-American about that.”Close