The Chester County Commissioners and the Chester County Workforce Development Board said there are openings for the next session of Platform to Employment, or P2E, the nationally recognized program that puts long-term unemployed people back to work.

Pat Bokovitz, director of the county’s Department of Community Development, said P2E is accepting applications from Chester County residents who are unemployed and have exhausted 20 weeks or more of unemployment. Those who meet the criteria are encouraged to apply now as positions are limited. Applications will be accepted up to Feb. 8 and the program is free.

Participants agree to take part in a five-week “boot camp” in which they develop resumés, cover letters, explore job skills and are eventually matched with companies willing to hire them.

Their salaries are paid through the program during the first six weeks as employers decide if they’re the right applicants for the job. Participants can receive help through the program for up to five months, Bokovitz added.

“They get a chance to get a foot in the door and show themselves off,” Bokovits said. “The idea is getting individuals back to maintaining a job. There’s a focus on attitude, life challenges and financial matters (as well).”

It is the third session that will be held in Chester County, which had an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent in November 2016. Another session in the area began Monday with partners at the Delaware County Community College in Delaware County, Bokovitz said.

Twenty-four people were in the first group that went through it in Chester County in September of 2015. Another 18 people took part in Chester County’s second session that ended six months ago. There are 15 people signed up for the program about to start.

The success rate for the program has been just under 80 percent.

The original five-week program was created by Connecticut-based “The Work Place.”

P2E has been featured on “60 Minutes” and other national news programs. The program provides a support system of career development tools, career coaching and successful job search strategies combined with personal and family support services, and financial counseling. Chester County’s P2E program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition to its partnership with The Work Place, the Chester County Workforce Development Board is working with United Way of Chester County, Open Hearth, Inc., Family Service of Chester County, Joseph’s People and the Chester County Economic Development Council to offer a comprehensive Platform to Employment program.

Further information and the online application for the Chester County Platform to Employment program are available at the P2E website, (click on the “apply here” button on the home page, then the Chester County, Pennsylvania button). Space within the program is limited to 25 people and all applicants are subject to a selection process.

Joseph M. Carbone, president and CEO of The Work Place spoke at PA CareerLink Chester County in September 2015, addressing needs of the long-term unemployed. On the left is Chester County Commissioner Terrence Farrell. (PETE BANNAN – DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA file photo)