PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Over lunch at Gregg's Restaurant on Post Road, Governor Gina M. Raimondo, Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian and state and local officials heard about the hopes and struggles of several long-term unemployed Rhode Island workers and the success stories of a few formerly unemployed Rhode Islanders who have found work after taking part in the Platform to Employment (P2E) program.
P2E is an intensive, nationally-recognized initiative focusing on the specific needs of the long-term unemployed - people who have been unemployed for 26 weeks or more and have exhausted their Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits.
Raimondo launched P2E in February as part of her continued focus on ensuring Rhode Islanders have the skills that matter to compete for available jobs. The Rhode Island Congressional Delegation secured $1.5 million of US Department of Labor National Emergency Grant funding to launch the initiative.
Since its launch in Rhode Island, 64 percent of participants have found jobs at an average salary of more than $42,000 a year. These participants' average length of unemployment was 24 months. P2E is expected to serve 175 Rhode Island workers who qualify under the federal grant.
"To hear firsthand from Rhode Island workers who had felt hopeless about finding work again but who now have been hired or have the confidence to actively look for a job is uplifting," Governor Raimondo said. "It speaks to the power of P2E, which is like a boot camp for people who have been out of work for a long time. As Governor, I won't rest until every Rhode Islander has access to the job training they need to get ahead. To grow the Rhode Island economy, we are investing and will always invest in the potential of our people and the competitiveness of our employers."
"As essential as they are, unemployment benefits only last for six months, but work searches in today's highly competitive job market often take much longer," said Mayor Avedisian. "I applaud the Governor's commitment to helping Rhode Island workers get back on their feet and the creators of P2E for their innovative, holistic approach combining professional development, career coaching, and a paid work experience. It's helping people and that's what matters most."
"One of P2E's greatest strengths is its eight-week subsidized work experience, through which the new and highly motivated employee works for a company but is on P2E's payroll for the first four weeks, and the employer and P2E share the cost of the wages for the second four weeks," said DLT Director Scott Jensen. "The most challenging phase of employment is onboarding, when a new worker joins a company. Sharing the employer's risk during this phase is a great value that P2E offers Rhode Island employers."
"Platform to Employment provides the tools and resources needed to return the long-term unemployed to work," said Joseph Carbone, President and CEO of The WorkPlace, creators of P2E. "We are excited to work with Rhode Island to locally create supports that will lead to opportunity for those that have lost hope."
Rhode Island is only the second state, after Connecticut, to implement P2E as a statewide initiative. P2E starts with mandatory job readiness training for five weeks including skills assessment, career readiness workshops, career coaching, financial counseling, family support services and lessons on job-placement strategy. P2E gives businesses a risk-free opportunity to evaluate and consider hiring participants during a trial work experience. Since its inception in 2011, P2E has expanded to over 27 markets including San Francisco, Detroit, Minneapolis, Chicago, Tampa and Dallas in 15 states and helped nearly 2,000 long-term unemployed workers return to work.
Placements are made on a trial basis and are paid for by the program. The expectation is that a full-time job will result if the employer is satisfied with the performance of the candidate. This provides employers with a risk-free opportunity to evaluate the candidate and determine if a good match exists. Employers interested in participating, and workers interested in enrolling, are encouraged to contact the program at www.PlatformToEmployment.com.