NBC News: Over 50 and out of work: Program seeks to help long-term unemployed
http://inplainsight.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/11/16/21266839-over-50-and-out-of-work-program-seeks-to-help-long-term-unemployed November 16, 2013. By Nona Willis-Aronowitz, NBC News contributor W ... Continue
November 16, 2013. By Nona Willis-Aronowitz, NBC News contributor
When Bret Lane was laid off from his telecommunications sales job after 16 years, he wasn’t worried. He’d never been unemployed for more than a few days since he started working as a teenager. But months passed, and he couldn’t find a job. One day, he heard the Purina plant in his Turlock, Calif., neighborhood was hiring janitors for $14 an hour. When he arrived early at 4 a.m., he counted more than 400 people lined up to interview.
“That’s when I realized things had gotten serious,” said Lane, 53, who called being out of work “pure hell.”
Lane’s experience is hardly unique. As of September 2013, 4 million people had been unemployed for six months or more. The economy has been slow to regain the 8.7 million jobs lost during the Great Recession, making prospects grim for many of the long-term unemployed.
Older workers like Lane make up a larger percentage of the persistently jobless than ever before. Nearly 40 percent of unemployed workers are over the age of 45 — a 30 percent rise from the 1980s. And for this group, the job hunt can be particularly long and frustrating. Unemployed people aged 45-54 were jobless for 45 weeks on average, and those 55 to 64 were jobless for 57 weeks, according to an October 2013 Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.
Younger workers didn’t have such a hard time, perhaps because many employers value productivity over loyalty or longevity, said Linda Barrington, an economist at Cornell University’s Institute for Compensation Studies. “Companies will pay a premium for energetic young people,” she said.
Addressing the emotional side of unemployment
An innovative program based in Bridgeport, Conn., is helping to get those who are over 50 and unemployed for long periods back into the market. Platform to Employment started in 2011 when a Connecticut job center called the WorkPlace was overwhelmed by calls from “99ers”—people who had been unemployed for 99 weeks, exhausting their unemployment benefits—many of whom were older workers.
The exact number of 99ers across the country is unknown; the Bureau of Labor Statistics hasn't distinguished between 99ers and those out of work for a year since 2010, an oversight that some say renders this group even more politically invisible. Already, the long-term unemployed face biases in hiring. It’s both legal and common for employers to write “unemployed need not apply” on job postings.
There has been virtually no public policy tackling long-term unemployment since the recession hit, said P2E founder Joe Carbone, and his program seeks to fill that gap. “These people have lost access to opportunity, which is a basic American tenet,” said Carbone. “We find a way to make them competitive and feel hopeful.”
P2E is an intensive, individualized five-week bootcamp that teaches job skills and works to build job-seekers’ confidence and emotional health. “We acknowledge that there are serious emotional issues for people who’d been unemployed for that long,” Carbone said.
The privately-funded program makes deals with businesses who hire P2E graduates for “internships,” a few-week trial period for the would-be employee, whose salary is subsidized by the WorkPlace. Often, it leads to full-time work. According to P2E, 80 percent of their participants have been granted trial periods, and of those, more than 85 percent have been hired by employers.
Accepting a new economic reality
The program has spread to 10 other cities across the United States, including San Diego, where Lane, a P2E graduate, has been employed full-time at a call center since May. After a year and nine months of unemployment, Lane sold his two-bedroom house, pared down his possessions to fit in a 5x10 storage unit, and drove to San Diego to live with his sister. That’s when he saw an ad in the paper for Platform to Employment.
He learned how to make his online resume more searchable by adding keywords, as well as how to create an impressive LinkedIn profile. “It also occurred to me that I was being discriminated against” because of age, rather than being rejected for not being good enough. Lane now makes about half of his previous salary and still lives with his sister, but he’s “happy to be working again.”
This acceptance of a new economic reality is at the heart of P2E; the program isn’t solving the problems of precarity, real-wage decline, or manufacturing losses so much as doing damage control.
“I’d say 100 percent of the people who went through Platform are making less than they did previously,” said Carbone. “We get them prepared for the fact that their standard of living will go down, that they probably have to change careers.”
This guidance is necessary, Barrington said. “A lot of [the long-term unemployed] came into the workforce still thinking you could work for the same company for your whole life,” she said. “Someone has to sit you down and tell you that’s not going to happen.”
She added that businesses need to be reminded of the value of older workers, who often bring intangible skills, such as punctuality, responsibility, and “being able to write a memo,” that younger employees may not yet have.
Heidi DeWyngaert, President of Bankwell, a holding company of several banks in Connecticut, said one of her banks hired an older worker from P2E who is succeeding on the job precisely for these reasons. “She’s mature, reliable and responsible with a great attitude,” said DeWyngaert.
The program has gained so much prominence that it’s become competitive in its own right. Early last year, after P2E was featured on 60 Minutes, the Bridgeport office was flooded with inquiries. The program routinely gets 1,000 applicants for around 20 spots.
Hoping to spark a national conversation
Vanessa Jackson, 57, saw the segment and kept track of P2E’s growth until it expanded to her area in Chicago. Jackson had been unemployed off and on since 2008, when she lost her $100,000 job as a marketing manager during a corporate downsizing. “I thought, of course, I would get another comparable job,” she said.
But it didn’t happen. She decided to get an MBA to “ride out the recession,” but that just landed her more debt. She finally got a part-time job as a deli clerk, until she broke her arm and went on disability for 10 months. Her $300,000 401(k) account dwindled to $60,000. She sold her house in the suburbs and moved in with her boyfriend on the South Side of Chicago.
“It was the most desperate thing in the world,” Jackson said. It pained her to remember the days when recruiters would tell her she was one of “the top African-American women in marketing.”
P2E “revived my energy,” she said. “It lifted the depression that was very much there.”
Jackson now works part-time as a project coordinator at a home care service agency for $13 an hour, which she admits is inadequate for her level of education. Still, she almost missed out on the opportunity. When P2E came to Chicago earlier this year, she wasn’t selected at first. “It felt like applying for a job in itself,” she said. “I beseeched [Chicago program manager Michael Morgan]. He said ‘I admire your ambition’ and let me in.”
Carbone is all too aware of P2E’s limited reach. “We’ve helped hundreds of people, but that doesn’t put even a small dent in the amount who need help,” he said. Carbone hopes to spark a national conversation and, eventually, get the attention of Washington.
“Let’s be clear,” Carbone said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if there were appropriate and relevant government policies.”Close
The Denver Post: Platform to Employment comes to Denver to aid older unemployed workers
http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_24453003/platform-employment-comes-denver-aid-older-unemployed-workers#ixzz2jne4tdCP The Denver Post, by Aldo Svaldi Mark DePumpo once thought ... Continue
The Denver Post, by Aldo Svaldi
Mark DePumpo once thought he had what he wanted in life — a nice home, cars, vacations and enough income to afford an early retirement.
Then the 2008 financial crisis hit, upending the sale of his business, including a job with the new buyers. He has spent the years since getting by on odd jobs and watching everything he saved and owned stripped away.
"It is going on 18 months without work," DePumpo, 55, said. "I really can't understand it. It went from the best of times to the worst of times."
More than 6 million workers had exhausted their unemployment benefits at the end of last year, with a disproportionate share of that group over age 50.
To help those older workers, Denver's economic-development office is participating in a program called Platform to Employment (P2E) founded by Joseph Carbone, president and CEO of the WorkPlace in Connecticut.
Denver is P2E's seventh city, and DePumpo was among 21 participants selected to join the first class Monday.
Employers don't readily admit to discrimination, but it shows up in not-so-subtle ways — such as job postings that say "must be currently employed," a phrase Carbone likens to the modern-day equivalent of "Irish need not apply."
Unlike other programs focused solely on skills training, P2E works on repairing the mental toll that unemployment takes, with free counseling sessions as well as help with job-hunting skills.
The longer someone stays unemployed, the more depleted they become — financially, professionally and mentally, Carbone said.
"They need hope," he said. "This is all about hope."
Carbone has been there. He went from being a successful professional to a long stretch of unemployment, one so embarrassing that he would drive 20 miles out of his way to buy groceries to avoid running into people he knew during the day.
Upon completion of the five-week program, participants work in a trial job for eight weeks, their wages subsidized to reduce the risk for employers. About 80 percent of participants find permanent employment.
P2E relies entirely on private funds — from the AARP Foundation, the Walmart Foundation and Citi Community Development — in part to avoid the strings that come with government funds.
"Financial services can't thrive with a high rate of unemployment in this country. It is more than a nice thing to do," said George Wright, a Midwest regional director of community development with Citi.
North Denver Tribune: Older workers, young veterans the focus of job readiness program for “long-term unemployed”
http://www.northdenvertribune.com/2013/11/older-workers-young-veterans-the-focus-of-job-readiness-program-for-long-term-unemployed/ November 1, 2013 Platform to Employment kicking off its first De ... Continue
November 1, 2013
Platform to Employment kicking off its first Denver class on November 4
DENVER — The Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) will launch the first local class of the popular Platform to Employment (P2E) program, a unique and ambitious curriculum that specifically targets the needs of workers who have been struggling with unemployment for six months or more.
Denver is the seventh city in the nation to launch a P2E program with the support of AARP Foundation, Citi Community Development, and the Walmart Foundation. The launch will take place November 4 during a business roundtable and program orientation.
Across both urban and rural settings around the country, the P2E program has placed 80% of its participants in work experience programs, and nearly 90% of its graduates move on to a full-time job.
“Two demographic groups who often find themselves in this category of long-term unemployed are workers over age 50 and veterans,” said Paul Washington, OED executive director. It is precisely these two categories of workers, with far-reaching needs ranging from financial counseling to mental health services for families, who are the focus of the P2E job readiness program, Washington said.
“Being out of work is challenge enough, and for those workers who are unemployed for more than 27 weeks, the challenges to remain optimistic and find sustainable employment only grow,” said Ledy Garcia-Eckstein, OED’s acting director of Workforce Development. “We are pleased to bring this program to Denver and introduce the members of our first class, a mix of these young veterans and older workers.”
Joseph Carbone, president and CEO of The WorkPlace, the Connecticut workforce council that developed P2E, will discuss the specific challenges faced by individuals aged 50 and over and veterans who have been unemployed long-term. Over the course of lunch, other speakers will include Deputy Mayor Cary Kennedy, Washington, and Garcia-Eckstein. Attendees from the business community, nonprofits, and members of the Denver Workforce Investment Board are expected to attend.
With an estimated 4.1 million Americans unemployed for 27 weeks or longer (as of September 2013), long-term unemployment remains a significant concern to reviving the American economy. P2E offers two phases of service, the first being a five-week preparatory program which includes workshops on resume writing, interview preparation, self-marketing and other skills. During this time, participants and their families will have access to optional behavioral health services and counseling through local providers.
Following the preparatory program, P2E helps participants find positions with local employers who have job openings. The employers get a risk-free evaluation of these new hires during an eight-week trial period where wages are subsidized by the program.
AARP Foundation funds specifically go to serving 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 aged 50 and up face choices and pressures no one could have prepared for,” said AARP Foundation President Jo Ann Jenkins. “Job loss and long-term unemployment among those 50 and older have wiped out retirement 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 aged 50 and up back to work in good jobs in their communities and to pave the way to a brighter and more secure future.”
Local Veterans Selected to be Honored During “Service to Country and Community Recognition Luncheon”
Bridgeport, CT (October 23, 2013) In recognition of Veterans Day The WorkPlace and the Connecticut Department of Labor would like to gather and say thank you to veterans who honorably served ... Continue
Bridgeport, CT (October 23, 2013)
In recognition of Veterans Day The WorkPlace and the Connecticut Department of Labor would like to gather and say thank you to veterans who honorably served their nation in the military and continue to add to the quality of the community.
The WorkPlace and the Connecticut Department of Labor announce the selection of five local veterans who will be honored during a luncheon to be held early next month at Port 5 in Bridgeport. On Sunday, November 3, during the “Service to Country and Community Recognition Luncheon”, five veterans will be honored for their military service and recognized for accomplishments that make our community a better place.
Nominations for recognition were requested via internet postings and by reaching out to local veteran posts for input. The nominations were anonymously reviewed by a panel of veterans. Criteria considered by the panel included the veterans’ military history, their support of veteran initiatives and contributions to civic activities.
The five veterans to be honored are:
Robert D. Bracci of Stratford, U.S. Army - Vietnam War
Richard Iannucci of Stratford, U.S. Navy - Vietnam War
Joseph J. Lipp, III of Fairfield, U.S. Navy - Desert Storm & Operation Enduring Freedom
Jeneen Smalls of Bridgeport, U.S. Army - Desert Storm & Operation Enduring Freedom
Robert Stone of Newtown, U.S. Army - Desert Storm
Each of these individuals has worked hard to enhance our communities after returning home from military service. Their contributions include working with youth, beautifying our neighborhoods, assisting seniors, aiding the homeless and coordinating vital veteran service programs.
“These men and woman represent the many brave veterans who have protected our rights and freedoms, and they are still making a positive difference right in their own communities,” said Labor Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer. “We hold these five veterans in the highest esteem and thank them for their continuing service.”
"This event is a great way for the community to show that it has not forgotten the service veterans have provided and our gratitude for the continued contributions they make today,” said Joseph Carbone, President and CEO of The WorkPlace.
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About The WorkPlace
The WorkPlace conducts comprehensive planning, and coordinates regional workforce development policy and programs to prepare people for careers while strengthening the workforce for employers. As national leader in the field, The WorkPlace regularly shares ideas and best practices with lawmakers, foundations, think tanks and other workforce development organizations around the country. For more information, visit www.workplace.org
About the CT Department of Labor
The Labor Department assists employers and jobseekers with their workforce needs that range from employment services to recruitment assistance, career fairs, unemployment insurance, and safety and health services. The agency also has an extensive website that includes an electronic job bank, employer services, labor market information and career tips. For more information, visit www.ct.gov/dol
Associated Press: Poll: Jobless Over 50 Face Very Difficult Road To Employment
http://washington.cbslocal.com/2013/10/22/poll-jobless-over-50-face-very-difficult-road-to-employment/ October 22, 2013, Associated Press OCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — When Charlie Worboys lost his jo ... Continue
October 22, 2013, Associated Press
OCKFORD, Ill. (AP) — When Charlie Worboys lost his job, he feared searching for a new one at his age might be tough. Six years later, at 65, he’s still looking.
Luanne Lynch, 57, was laid off three times in the past decade and previous layoffs brought jobs with a lower salary; this time she can’t even get that.
They’re not alone. A new Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll finds many people over 50 reporting great difficulty finding work and feeling that their age is a factor.
After Worboys was laid off and his hunt for another teaching job was fruitless, he sought counseling positions. When those leads dried up, he applied for jobs in juvenile detention centers, in sales and elsewhere. He finally settled for part-time work, all the while still scouring online listings and sending out applications each week.
“They’re looking for the younger person,” he said. “They look at the number 65 and they don’t bother to look behind it.”
The AP-NORC Center poll found 55 percent of those 50 and older who have sought a job in the past five years characterized their search as difficult, and 43 percent thought employers were concerned about their age. Further, most in the poll reported finding few available jobs (69 percent), few that paid well (63 percent) or that offered adequate benefits (53 percent). About a third were told they were overqualified.
Still, some companies are welcoming older workers, and 43 percent of job seekers surveyed found a high demand for their skills and 31 percent said there was a high demand for their experience. Once on the job, older workers were far more likely to report benefits related to their age — 60 percent said colleagues had come to them for advice more often and 42 percent said they felt as if they were receiving more respect in the company.
People of all ages have been frustrated by the job market and the unemployment rate for those 55 and older was 5.3 percent in September, lower than the 7.2 percent rate among all ages. By comparison, unemployment among those 20-24 was 12.9 percent, and among those 25-54, 6.2 percent.
But long-term unemployment has been rampant among the oldest job seekers. Unemployed people aged 45 to 54 were out of work 45 weeks on average, those 55 to 64 were jobless for 57 weeks and those 65 and older average 51 weeks.
Younger workers were unemployed for shorter periods of time.
Sixty-three percent of those who searched for a job cited financial need and 19 percent said it was because they were laid off. Far smaller numbers searched because they wanted to change careers, find a better salary or benefits, escape unhappiness at a prior job or simply get out of the house.
Lynch, of San Gabriel, Calif., hated taking a step down after the earlier layoffs, but this time only one interview has come from 70-some applications.
“It’s starting at the bottom,” she said. “And frankly, I’m getting too old to be starting at the bottom.”
Bob Gershberg, a corporate recruiter in St. Petersburg, Fla., said unemployed people, regardless of age, have had trouble getting rehired. But he said older workers have faced an added layer of skepticism from employers.
“They’ll say, ‘Give me the young guy. Give me the up-and-comer. Someone with fire in the belly,” he said. “But there’s always been a bias against the unemployed. They say, ‘If she was so good, why’d she get cut?’”
Sharon Hulce, who runs a recruitment firm in Appleton, Wis., said she’s found some employers are concerned that applicants in their late 50s or 60s may not stick around for the long haul.
And Kerry Hannon, who authored “Great Jobs for Everyone 50-plus,” said managers may be leery of a lengthy resume from someone they can’t afford, salary-wise.
“They’ll look at your background and just figure you’ll be insulted, when they can get a younger worker to step in,” she said.
About 4 in 10 who have been on the job market said they felt they lacked the right skills or felt too old for the available jobs. Many reported trying to improve their skillset (20 percent) or present themselves with a fresher resume or interview approach (15 percent) to make themselves more marketable.
Bret Lane, 53, of San Diego, was out of work for 22 months until finding a job over the summer through Platform to Employment, a training program. He lost count of how many jobs he had applied for — it was easily in the hundreds. Once, after seeing applications would be taken for a janitorial job paying $14 hourly, he got up at 3 a.m. to get an early start. There were already 400 others in line.
“I wasn’t getting any interviews. I wasn’t getting in front of any decision makers,” he said. “People in our age group are very discriminated against.”
One in five respondents in the AP-NORC Center poll said they personally experienced prejudice or discrimination in the job market or at work because of their age. That doubles to 40 percent among those who have sought a job in the last five years.
Faye Smith, 69, of Dallas, Ga., said she needed to find work after losing much of her savings in the downturn but felt the hesitance of employers when they saw the dates on her resume.
“You could tell when they found out the age,” she said. “There’s a change in the face and the demeanor of the person.”
The AP-NORC Center survey was conducted Aug. 8 through Sept. 10 by NORC at the University of Chicago, with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. It involved landline and cellphone interviews in English and Spanish with 1,024 people aged 50 and older nationwide. Results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.Close
Add Us In/DiversityWorks Program Invites Job Seekers and Employers to Job Fair on October 24
Bridgeport – October 16, 2013 Continuing the celebration of Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM), the Add UsIn/DiversityWorks program is inviting job seekers to an event specially d ... Continue
Bridgeport – October 16, 2013
Continuing the celebration of Disability Employment Awareness Month (DEAM), the Add UsIn/DiversityWorks program is inviting job seekers to an event specially designed to help people with disabilities looking for work. The DEAM Job Fair will take place on October 24th at the Holiday Inn, 1070 Main Street in Bridgeport from 2pm to 6pm. The Job Fair is open to all jobseekers.
The WorkPlace’s Add Us In/DiversityWorks program supports small businesses in Southwestern CT and surrounding communities to hire and leverage the talent of people with disabilities, including LGBT individuals with disabilities.
Job seekers are encouraged to dress “to impress,” and to bring copies of their resume. Also attend four helpful workshops: at 1:30pm “Navigating a Job Fair” to learn tips for maximizing your experience at a job fair, at 2:30pm “Disability Disclosure: If To, When To, and How To” to learn the pros and cons of disclosing a non-visible disability as well as how to discuss a visible disability with potential employers, at 3:30pm "Making Work Work" to learn how to be a successful employee despite, or maybe even because of, your disability. Brain storm ways to problem solve issues that may come up around your disability in the work place and at 4:30pm "Thriving in a Job Once You Have One" to learn about manners, work place etiquette and other 'soft skills' are important to thriving in a workplace as well as discuss questions from dealing with difficult co-workers to responding to inappropriate questions about your disability.
Employers looking to hire are invited to register for a free booth to recruit candidates to diversify their companies’ workforce.
For more information, go to www.ctworksSW.org/DEAMJobFair or call Val Dockery at (203) 722-6707.
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