Lamont Proposes Legislation Focused on Creating an Agile, Equitable, and High-Performing Workforce in Connecticut

Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he plans to introduce legislation during the 2021 regular session of the Connecticut General Assembly that focuses on building a robust workforce in Connecticut by developing and investing in short-term training programs, increasing access to postsecondary education, enhancing workforce data collection efforts, and codifying a new state office focused on workforce development.

With 190,000 Connecticut residents filing for unemployment since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Lamont said that it is paramount that Connecticut develops job training programs, creates new governance structures, and implements innovative policies that are focused on helping residents return to work and progress along meaningful career pathways.

The governor is proposing to codify the state’s Office of Workforce Strategy, an office located within the Department of Economic and Community Development, that will serve as the connective tissue between educators, industry partners, community-based organizations, and government agencies so that workforce development programs and strategies are being coordinated across the state. The office will continue to be led by Dr. Kelli Vallieres, who has been serving as its executive director since July.

Working in collaboration with other state agencies, including the Department of Labor and the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Office of Workforce Strategy will coordinate short-term training through a new flagship program called CareerConneCT. The program will be an umbrella for a number of different efforts and initiatives, all of which will be focused on creating and scaling high-quality, short-term training programs in industries with high labor demands, such as advanced manufacturing, clean energy, bioscience, cybersecurity, and allied health professions.

Through newly formed partnerships between workforce development boards, community colleges, employers, and state agencies, the Office of Workforce Strategy recently concluded a series of job training programs that trained an estimated 850 individuals across in-demand industries, such as information technology, healthcare, and manufacturing. These training programs were completed in four months and had a total completion rate of 97 percent across the different providers.

“We’ve seen firsthand through our recently completed CARES Act training programs how effective short-term training programs can be in getting our workforce back on track,” Governor Lamont said. “CareerConneCT will serve as the backbone for a high-performing workforce that meets the needs of the 21st century economy.”

Governor Lamont today also announced that Connecticut is receiving a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor that will help build career pathways in the information technology and advanced manufacturing sectors. The grant is expected to provide both entry-level and incumbent worker training to more than 2,000 residents.

“The CARES Act job training programs and the recent grant from the U.S. Department of Labor are just a few examples of what happens when Connecticut stakeholders collaborate together to deliver programming across the state,” Mark Argosh, chair of the Governor’s Workforce Council, said. “By collaborating with our regional workforce development boards, educators, employers, state agencies, and community partners, we are creating lasting partnerships that will improve the outcomes of Connecticut’s workforce.”

“Developing a flexible, modern, and high-performing workforce is critical to attracting and retaining businesses and talent in the state,” David Lehman, commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, said. “By focusing on short-term training opportunities, Governor Lamont is setting up Connecticut’s workforce for long-term success by fostering growth in new industries that will strengthen Connecticut’s economy for generations to come.”

“The pandemic has hit Connecticut’s workforce hard. The Department of Labor has 190,000 weekly unemployment filers – people whose jobs disappeared practically overnight,” Kurt Westby, commissioner of the Department of Labor, said. “Despite the slow jobs market, we continue to see interest in job training initiatives, resume writing, and other career-building activities. Creating strategic initiatives that meet the needs of specific economic sectors is an important way to develop the workforce pipeline; I applaud Governor Lamont for seeking innovative ways to get Connecticut back to work.”

The legislative proposal on workforce development is the first that Governor Lamont has announced so far this year. It will be included as part of the governor’s package of proposals that will be submitted to the General Assembly in February.