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Potential Employees Graduate From Back-To-Work Program In Shelton

President Joe Carbone addresses the graduates of Platform to Employment in Shelton Thursday. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Empty chairs representing graduates of Platform to Employment who missed the graduation ceremony because they've already found jobs. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
State Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
State Rep. Chris Perone Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

SHELTON, Conn. — As The Workplace, a Bridgeport-based workforce development organization, held a graduation Thursday for its long-term unemployment program, President Joe Carbone said he was especially pleased to see a full 50 empty seats at the front of the room.

They represented the graduates of the Platform to Employment cohort who couldn’t attend the ceremony — because they have found jobs.

“There should be 65, but we ran out of chairs,” he said.

Platform to Employment (P2E) is an innovative five-week program that aims to get the long-term unemployed back to work and provide employers with a risk-free trial with skilled potential employees.

Created by The WorkPlace, the program is free and open to those who have been out of work for at least six months and have exhausted unemployment benefits.

The daily preparatory program addresses social, emotional and skill deficiencies that can come with long-term unemployment. Participants look at their resumes with fresh eyes and practice interviewing on camera to catch their strengths and weaknesses.

After the five weeks, participants are matched with open positions at local companies on an eight-week trial basis. Salaries are funded through The WorkPlace, which receives substantial state funding.

The program’s success rate is notable: Last year, 85 percent of P2E participants found full-time work, compared to the estimated 20 percent of those who’ve exhausted unemployment benefits and found work on their own, Carbone said.

In its first five years, P2E has grown into a national initiative with programs in 12 states, Carbone said. The organization will be working with a group of veterans in Rocky Hill soon, he said.

Fairfield state Reps. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, D-133, and Chris Perone, D-137, were on hand to congratulate the graduates.

“Today, I can feel the buzz, the energy and sense of connection (among the participants),” McCarthy Vahey said.

Perone told them to rely on each other for emotional support and networking opportunities.

“Can I do this?” he told them to ask themselves. “Yes, you can.”

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