Countless state agencies, committees, boards, school districts, and businesses are working feverishly to address Connecticut's critical manufacturing workforce needs.
And yet, we are falling far short.
The key reason, according to manufacturers across Connecticut, is the state lacks an overall strategic game plan and point person responsible for setting goals, measuring impacts, and ensuring the necessary workforce demands and other vital manufacturing needs are met.
CBIA and the Connecticut Manufacturers' Collaborative spoke this week before the legislature's Commerce Committee in support of SB 855, which creates a cabinet-level position of Secretary of Manufacturing.
"Each member of this committee can probably speak to one or more initiatives in their district or region to help increase the manufacturing workforce," CBIA's Eric Brown said.
"So why are all these efforts insufficient to meet Connecticut's manufacturing workforce challenge?
"Mostly because each of these initiatives stands or falls on its own, lacking connection to any comprehensive, statewide strategic thinking or planning.
"Additionally, there is little or no measurement or accountability regarding the efficacy or cost-effectiveness of these initiatives relative to statewide strategic goals—because there are none.”
Connecticut manufacturers can create jobs, economic prosperity, and provide fiscal stability to the state—once they address a significant workforce shortage, Brown said.
"Unfortunately, the current initiatives and systems for attracting and training manufacturing workers of all skill levels, while good and improving, are insufficient to meet current and projected future manufacturing workforce demands," he said.
Brown also submitted testimony supporting SB 854, which reduces statutory disincentives for high schools to promote manufacturing and other technical trade credential programs as education and career alternatives.
He also spoke in support of SB 856, which requires the State Board of Education to consider manufacturing workforce needs when evaluating public school education programs and to ensure greater involvement by manufacturers in developing state education plans.