Mayor Edwin M. Lee today launched Platform to Employment (P2E), a new pilot workforce development program that provides a pathway to employment for long-term unemployed workers. In San Francisco, approximately 4,200 residents are losing their Federal unemployment benefits which are used to pay for everyday expenses. The program participants receive three tiers of critical assistance: job readiness workshops, counseling and behavioral health services and eight weeks of work experience at a local company.
“At a time when thousands of people are losing their Federal unemployment extension benefits in our City, Platform to Employment helps the long-term unemployed get back on track,” said Mayor Lee. “Platform to Employment will help the long-term unemployed overcome challenges by providing new job search skills, access to financial counseling, and an opportunity to re-enter the workforce.”
“Platform to Employment offers a real solution to the crisis of long-term unemployment, offering hope and a pathway to meaningful and lasting employment to those hardest hit by the recession, and enabling unemployed San Franciscans to return to the workforce with confidence and dignity,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. “Too many Americans are still struggling to find a job and make ends meet—a situation that has been exacerbated by congressional Republicans’ refusal to extend the emergency unemployment insurance that so many rely on to support their families and pay their bills as they search for work.”
The P2E program in San Francisco is a public-private partnership between the City and County of San Francisco, The WorkPlace, Jewish Vocational Services (JVS), Family Services Agency of San Francisco, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco, and the California Employment Development Department. Funding for the program is being provided by grants from AARP Foundation, Citi Community Development, and the Walmart Foundation.
“We know that the power of hope is essential to the creation of great things. Today there are 3.9 million Americans who are long-term unemployed,” said The WorkPlace President & CEO Joe Carbone. “Platform to Employment is the only project of its kind to place participants in jobs. We look forward to introducing the program to San Francisco with the support of our partners.”
The Federal unemployment extension program ended as of December 28, 2013. Earlier this month, Congress failed to pass a three-month extension of unemployment benefits which are used by the long-term unemployed to pay for living expenses such as rent, utilities, and food. As of the end of January, an estimated 262,000 individuals had already lost out on Federal unemployment insurance extension benefits in California and will remain without benefits until Congress makes a decision.
President Barack Obama recently cited Platform to Employment as one of the promising examples of programs that connect the long-term unemployed to work. P2E has been piloted in eight other cities nationally including San Diego, Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis and Chicago with participants from urban and suburban communities. P2E has placed more than 80 percent of program participants into work experience programs, with 90 percent of these individuals moving on to full-time employment.
P2E demonstrates that a combination of job readiness programming, personal and family support services, and financial counseling can return the long-term unemployed to the workforce. San Francisco is the ninth city to launch the program with a cohort of 18 participants who are currently enrolled – of these approximately 48 percent of the participants have been unemployed for more than 24 months.
P2E participants enroll in a mandatory five week series of job readiness workshops including job search strategies, resume writing, self-marketing, rebuilding confidence, and worker support programs. P2E participants also offered group and individual mental health services by the Family Service Agency of San Francisco to address the social and emotional challenges that the long-term unemployed face. With support from Citi Community Development, P2E participants will also receive financial counseling and credit rebuilding assistance through Consumer Credit Counseling Service of San Francisco.
Financial counseling and credit rebuilding assistance are essential components of the P2E model. Together with other personal and family supports in place, these services will better equip jobseekers to face the significant financial challenges many families experience during extended periods of unemployment. This training is essential at a time when many are financially overextended and have endured a reduction in regular income, or have none at all.
Following the training, P2E helps participants find open positions with local companies for an eight week work experience. During the placement, the workers’ wages will be subsidized by P2E – allowing employers to evaluate the performance of the participants. This trial allows employers to determine whether there is an opportunity for long-term employment. P2E will cover the salary, insurance and payroll taxes for each candidate hired through the program. The program does not cap the wage subsidy, so candidates are free to secure employment at the employer of their choice.
“One thing that I have faced is the feeling that you get, that you are stale, that you will never get a job. I am 60 years old and I have tremendous skill,” said P2E participant George Koster. “I have worked in temporary jobs that were a bridge to nowhere and P2E is a bridge to reinvent myself. Their approach is holistic – dealing with the psychological part and the financial part and helping people combat their personal dialogue that tells them they are not a failure.”
Results of the pilot will be evaluated and if proven to be successful here in San Francisco, the program will become part of the core services offered through the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD). Currently, OEWD offers training opportunities to local residents for entry level positions in growing industries, such as construction, health care, hospitality and technology. OEWD also offers neighborhood based job readiness and job search services through a network of access points located throughout San Francisco. For more information, go to: www.workforcedevelopmentsf.org
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 a 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, go to: www.platformtoemployment.com.