The new minority: Millions of long-term unemployed looking for hope

Published: Monday, July 30 2012 9:00 p.m. MDT

"What we learn from the program is they need to confront their fears," Carbone said. "And they need to get themselves in a mode to be competitive."

This means boosting job hunting skills, filling in the areas where knowledge may have gone stale and addressing emotional issues. "And then go out and get a job," he said. "And don't look in terms of finding a job that is up to the credential level you think you have earned. Do not think in terms of what you made before. Right now, the most important thing you need to get done is get off of unemployment and onto employment. You cannot begin to rebuild your career unless you do it from a position of being employed."

Carbone doesn't mean to take any job, but consider jobs that they may never have considered during their working life — such as a part-time job or a position that is not up to their level. This isn't about earning money as much as it is about being on a platform where they can rebuild their life. "We need to do what we need to do to get to the ultimate destination," he said.

The new job is a way station.

Carbone understands what program participants feel like from his own experience years ago when he was out of work for more than eight months. He knows a person who is long-term unemployed may have some unique experience is relevant to the employer's needs. He also said an advantage to employers is they can bargain with the long-term unemployed because they have been out of work for a long time. If they will only give them a chance.

Justine tenZeldam was lucky. She didn't have the backing of a program like P2E, but was given a chance and found a great job as an account executive and social media manager at Tactical Telesolutions in San Francisco. Getting back into the game made the difference for her.

For Frank O'Neill, Carbone's program was a life saver. The day after the 8-week internship ended, he was offered full time employment at Cain Management, which runs more than 35 Dunkin' Donuts franchises in the Connecticut area.

But still, even with some success, Carbone doesn't sleep well. He sees the challenge of the millions of long-term unemployed as a moral challenge more than anything else. "We see millions of American workers that are drifting into the abyss," he said. "They are the sacrificial lambs. They are who we are giving up as we transition from the pre-recession economy to the post-recession economy. That is un-American. That is unjust. And that needs to be addressed."

And Carbone won't rest until it is.

EMAIL: mdegroote@desnews.com TWITTER: @degroote FACEBOOK: facebook.com/madegroote

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