Program aims to put long-term unemployed back to work

A $3 million program has been launched in Colorado to help the long-term unemployed get back to work.

“Getting Coloradans back to work, especially those sidelined for more than six months, is a priority for the state,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. “As part of this new program, we are offering incentives to Colorado businesses who have job opportunities and, equally important, we will be making sure that Coloradans have the skills to fill those jobs.”

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment will administer the program and support a variety of assessment, training efforts and support services offered at workforce centers across the state.

Outreach efforts to employers will include a new Web site at www.hireforcolorado.com. Employers can use the site to explore options for hiring targeted groups, post jobs and learn more about work experience and on-the-job training incentives that will give them opportunities to try out candidates.

In addition, employers will be asked to sign a pledge telling job seekers that if they have the right skills and the ability to learn, they’ll get a fair shot.

The Web site also will help the long-term unemployed looking for jobs connect with work force specialists who can provide assessments, training and other resources.

According to the latest federal data, more than 47,000 Coloradans are counted among the long-term unemployed who’ve been out of work 26 weeks or longer. The average annual number of the long-term unemployed in Colorado has been trending downward, though.

Hickenlooper said it’s important to address any level of long-term unemployment during a time of job growth in Colorado. “We’re committed to helping these job seekers get back into the labor force.”