Hugh McQuaid Photo
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (Hugh McQuaid Photo)

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy outlined his long-term unemployment agenda Monday including proposals to reauthorize an existing job-training program, prohibit employment discrimination against the unemployed, and to establish a five-week “job-readiness” program.

Malloy announced the three-part legislative agenda on long-term unemployment Monday at a press conference in New Britain.

“Often the longer someone is unemployed, the harder it gets to find employment, even when that person may have skills that make them well qualified to fill a position,” he said. “. . . These initiatives will help match our talented workforce with employers to grow jobs and remove barriers to employment.”

The legislation calls for bonding another $10 million for the existing Subsidized Employment Training Program (STEP UP), which subsidizes the salaries of new employees for the first six months they’re on the job.

The governor also called for new restrictions on how businesses advertise their job openings to prevent employers from screening out applicants who are currently unemployed. He said those hiring practices often put unemployed residents at a disadvantage even when they are just as qualified as their competition.

“We want to make sure that unemployed workers have at least the same opportunity to present their skills — plus past experience and other qualifications — to potential employers as someone who’s fortunate to currently be employed,” he said.

Hugh McQuaid Photo
Nora Duncan (Hugh McQuaid Photo)

Nora Duncan, state director of the AARP, said no one should be disqualified from employment just because they’re not working. However, she said older job-seekers often face that and other challenges.

“It’s just unjust and unfair and it’s as simple as that. It’s also short-sighted. Businesses are very likely missing out on hiring highly-qualified, highly-motivated workers that can add value to their bottom line and employees aged 50-plus are known to be experienced motivated and highly-engaged,” she said.

Malloy’s third proposal would model itself after a successful private nonprofit program created at The WorkPlace in Bridgeport. The program, called Platform to Employment, involves behavioral health services and financial advice. It also includes a subsidized internship designed to reduce the risk for potential employers.

Joseph Carbone, president and CEO of The WorkPlace, said the program tries to help job seekers address some of the emotional consequences of long-term unemployment. He said it takes a different approach by making people better prepared to find a job.

Hugh McQuaid Photo
Joseph Carbone (Hugh McQuaid Photo)

“A lot of the old tools just don’t work anymore. Platform for Employment has tried to recognize that and it deals with the mind, so that before you get to the point of job training, we try to help people feel better about themselves, accept the challenge and look forward to a future where they can come into the market and compete,” he said. 

The governor said between 80 and 90 percent of the people who have participated in the program have found jobs.

Malloy called for $3.6 million to enroll up to 500 people in a statewide version of the program in its first year. He said people who have exhausted their long-term unemployment benefits in Connecticut will be eligible.