New state program seeks to boost manufacturing

On June 10, Gov. Malloy announced the creation of a two-year, $7 million Incumbent Worker Training Program through the Manufacturing Innovation Fund.

"This targeted training program will support the efforts of advanced manufacturing companies in training their existing workforce in the next generation of skills needed to meet emerging market demands," Gov. Malloy said. "With a state-of-the-art workforce, Connecticut businesses will continue to bring technological innovation to the market, increasing productivity and growing market share, sales revenue, and profitability."

A matching fund program, the incumbent worker training program requires companies to contribute at least one dollar for every dollar of program funding offered. Grants range from $5,000 to $100,000 per calendar year. The program will enable Connecticut manufacturers to send existing employees to a third party vendor, such as a community college, industry or trade group, or another training provider in order to enhance or upgrade their skills. By participating in the program, manufacturers and the state will be investing in their workforce and ensuring that their employees have the necessary math, science, technical, and industry specific skills necessary to compete in today's manufacturing field.

The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) will fund the program as part of the Connecticut Manufacturing Innovation Fund, a $30 million fund created to strengthen the competitiveness of Connecticut's diverse manufacturing base.

"Under the direction of our board, which is largely comprised of industry leaders, we developed this important new program in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Labor. The program targets a paramount need identified by the business community: ensuring our existing workforce has the skills to compete globally," DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith said. "We very much value the input we have received from our board and manufacturers in the state. By focusing on their greatest needs, we hope to propel the success of the industry and keep Connecticut in the sights of advanced manufacturers worldwide."

"We look forward to this new partnership and the opportunity to help employers further develop the skills of their workforce," Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer said. "Because gaining a competitive edge in today's business world requires that an employee's knowledge and expertise is constantly updated, this training program offers long-term benefits to employers, employees, and our state."

As manager and administrator, CTDOL will act as fiduciary agent for DECD; perform program eligibility evaluations of applicants; oversee the distribution and expenditure of funds; monitor and verify the status of approved projects; and report on impact results.

Together, DECD and CTDOL will conduct outreach and promote the program to the manufacturing industry and other organizations involved in manufacturing in Connecticut. The Incumbent Worker Training Program complements the existing Voucher Program the Manufacturing Innovation Fund launched earlier this year. Under that initiative, companies may apply for matching grants for a variety of uses to innovate and modernize their business.

More information is available here.