February 26, 2021 (Hartford, CT) — Capital Workforce Partners (CWP) joined with other leaders on February 26 in a virtual press conference led by Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz to discuss vital workforce development initiatives outlined in Governor Ned Lamont’s budget proposal, as well as success stories concerning CARES Act funding that was utilized throughout the state in the latter part of 2020.
”It is really important that our state continue to implement new and creative initiatives that allow us to meet the demands of our changing economy and help us as we recover from the pandemic and the high numbers of unemployment that have been caused by the pandemic,” said Bysiewicz. “We know that we need to create opportunities that allow our residents to access employment in emerging industries with good paying jobs. That starts with improving educational outcomes and skills of our residents, particularly our young residents and students.”
The leaders who joined Lt. Governor Bysiewicz included Alex Johnson, President & CEO of CWP; Kelli-Marie Vallieres, Executive Director of the Workforce Development Unit of the Department of Economic and Community Development and Vice-Chair of the Governor’s Workforce Council (GWC); Mark Argosh, Executive Director of Social Venture Partners and Chair of the GWC; Bill Villano, President & CEO of Workforce Alliance; and Dr. Jane Gates, Interim President of Connecticut State Colleges and Universities.
Johnson highlighted the critical importance of everyone working together to build a robust, world-class workforce and education system. He noted that, given the contents of the Governor’s bill, the state is well on its way to strengthening key workforce development infrastructure. “The slogan here for us this morning is [the bill’s] a ‘win-win,’” said Johnson. “It is a win for the individuals we are serving, in terms of our unemployed and under-employed individuals…and we are building a winning system for employers that desperately need talent to meet their skilled needs,” said Johnson.
Johnson thanked Bysiewicz and Lamont for making the CARES Act resources available in 2020. Of the 1,000 individuals served statewide, more than 400 individuals were served in CWP’s North Central region. The individuals received resources in a variety of areas, including healthcare, working in partnership with area community colleges, business services, construction, manufacturing, information technology, and transportation.
One success story Johnson shared concerned an individual who had been unemployed and largely living out of his car. “Through this support we were able to provide him with some temporary housing assistance, a stipend, he went through the three weeks of CDL training and is now placed into a Teamster’s job making $75,000 a year,” Johnson said. “That’s just one of the many examples that we’ve achieved and can demonstrate. It’s a really exciting time for us in workforce development to know that this work doesn’t end, but it is going to continue.”
The proposed legislation also requires the completion of the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to ensure that more of the state’s students are able to gain admission into college. This will expose more students to federal grants and state funding that can help make college possible – even free for some students. The Governor’s proposal seeks to create an auto-admission program for the four campuses in the Connecticut State University system, as well as to increase the number of Advanced Placement courses and the level of college access for students who are academically prepared.
According to Argosh, one of the key tenants of workforce strategy is all around equity and access. “We are very excited about the initiatives in the Governor’s bill to improve access to transportation for all people – not just attending college programs, but people attending job training programs offered through the regional workforce boards and elsewhere in our state,” said Argosh. “Some of the elements of the [Governor’s] bill will directly accelerate our efforts in terms of building out career pathways.”