Long-term unemployment a priority for Malloy
New Britain – On a day when the state posted disappointing jobs numbers, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he intends to ask the General Assembly next month to fund a successful private-sector program for the long-term unemployed and to ban help-wanted ads that discriminate against the jobless.
Malloy said Monday the two measures, combined with expanding a program that offers economic incentives for employers to hire the jobless, are elements of a jobs package to be included in the budget he will deliver Feb. 5 as legislators open their 2014 session.
The first-term Democratic governor announced his initiatives at a state Department of Labor career center, the latest in a series of events by Malloy to preview election-year initiatives. He rebuffed efforts by reporters to press him on whether he will propose a tax cut.
“I think in the coming days I will be answering your questions on that point and others,” Malloy said.
The three programs he endorsed Monday largely follow recommendations made last month by the legislature’s Program Review and Investigations Committee in a report on the re-employment of older workers. One of them, Platform to Employment, is an intensive program for the long-term unemployment that has drawn favorable national press, most notably in a “60 Minutes” segment in 2012.
“Connecticut will become the first state in the union to do a statewide project that targets these long-term unemployed that have exhausted their benefits,” said Joseph M. Carbone, the president and chief executive officer of The WorkPlace, the Bridgeport nonprofit that developed Platform to Employment.
P2E, as the program also is known, provides five weeks of psychological counseling, classroom instruction and other coaching, followed by an eight-week internship that acts as both training and a risk-free tryout.
“At the varied stage of unemployment, your needs change,” Carbone said. “You have to have the service that are relevant.”
P2E has better than an 80 percent success rate in placing participants in jobs, he said. Malloy said he is seeking $3.6 million for the first year of the program, which would serve up to 500 persons.
The program will be open to those who have exhausted their unemployment benefits, a number in the tens of thousands. Benefits expired for 22,000 unemployed in December.
With the expiration of extended benefits that once provided 99 weeks of coverage, benefits now expire after 26 weeks.
Carbone’s program was funded in part by AARP, which also has sought the ban on help-wanted ads that rule out anyone not currently employed. Oregon, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., already ban such ads.
“The bottom line is that the qualified and experienced workers should never be disqualified for employment simply because they are not currently working,” said Nora Duncan, the state director of AARP. “The prevalence of this practice, it’s kind of hard to say exactly.”
In 2011, the National Employment Law Project audited four major employment websites for four weeks, finding 155 ads that stated the employer would consider only applicants already employed. The ads included an opening for a heating/air technician in Connecticut.
The legislation proposed by Malloy would bar help-wanted ads that require applicants to be employed. It also would bar employers from directing employment agencies to screen on the basis of employment status.
The bill would not, however, create a new protected class under labor law, nor would it bar an employer from considering employment status in the final hiring decisions.
Malloy said he also will seek to continue and expand the Step Up program for employers of fewer than 100 workers. It provides subsidies for training and wages to companies that hire the jobless. Nearly 600 companies have used the program since its launch in 2012, hiring 2,067 people.
The state has spent $16 million on the program. Malloy said he will seek another $10 million in funding from bonding.
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