State to use federal pandemic rescue funds for job training

State to use federal pandemic rescue funds for job training

Gov. Ned Lamont is proposing spending $103 million in new federal pandemic relief money on job training, with the goal of getting people who lost employment during the pandemic back to work.

Connecticut currently has 140,000 unemployed workers, but also has industries, including health care, information technologies and manufacturing that have announced major hiring initiatives, he said.

Lamont said under his plan, which still needs legislative approval, $95.5 million of the money from the American Rescue Plan Act will be used for things such as certificate programs in Connecticut’s community colleges, which have been designed with the help of Connecticut employers to make sure they are meeting their immediate employment needs.

About $3.7 million would be used to extend the operating hours of ten Connecticut Technical Education and Career System programs. Another $2 million would be used to train 1,000 people who are currently or were previously in prison and other $2 million is earmarked to train “at-risk and disengaged” youth,

Money also would be used for wrap-around programs, such as free transportation to training classes and wifi hot-spot cards to ensure those being trained have internet access.

“We’re providing free child care for each and every one of these people taking the opportunity to re-skill themselves in one of these certificate programs,” Lamont said.

The governor was joined by numerous business and education leaders Thursday in making the announcement.

Andrew Bond, the vice president of human resources at Electric Boat said new government submarine contracts mean his company will hire 300 workers each year at its Groton shipyard as it looks to double operations over the next 10 years. He said they are partnering with the state to develop a pipeline to those jobs for Connecticut students, especially those in underrepresented communities.

“We’re looking to introduce careers in shipbuilding to those that don’t yet know they want to be shipbuilders,” he said.

Kelli Vallieres, executive director of the state Office of Workforce Strategy, said much of the American Rescue Plan money will build on the work done last year, when regional workforce development boards and the community colleges re-trained more than 850 workers displaced by the pandemic.

“Our focus in on those who have been most affected by COVID and the long-term unemployed and underserved populations,” she said.

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