The state is offering free online courses to unemployed Connecticut workers, including those who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Ned Lamont announced a significant statewide expansion of the SkillUp CT program to allow thousands of Connecticut residents access to comprehensive online coursework from a private sector vendor.
More than 472,000 Connecticut residents have filed unemployment claims since mid-March.
Lamont said he plans to launch the program statewide so laid-off workers can upgrade their skills and earn industry-recognized certifications "even while the doors to most brick-and mortar education and training providers remain closed."
The Governor's Workforce Council will work with the state Department of Labor and the Connecticut Workforce Council to coordinate the SkillUp CT program, which began with the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board.
It will be offered through Connecticut's five regional workforce development boards.
Eligible residents will get an email with instructions on obtaining a Metrix Learning license that provides access to about 5,000 online Skillsoft courses in areas including information technology, business analysis, customer service, project management, and digital literacy, among others.
It only takes a computer and internet connection to access courses.
CBIA's Eric Brown called Lamont's announcement "a very encouraging development.'
"This is evidence that Connecticut will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic smarter, stronger, and more innovative than ever," he said.
"The unemployed and underemployed—including but not exclusively, underserved communities, the incarcerated, and the physically and economically challenged—need significantly greater opportunities to gain practical job skills through non-traditional educational venues."
Shannon Marimon, the executive director of ReadyCT, a CBIA affiliate focused on K-12 academic and career advancement, agreed.
"The impact of this program has tremendous potential, particularly since it increases access to skill-building coursework in high-demand fields like information technology and digital literacy," she said.
"Additionally, because this online learning platform removes many cost and transportation barriers, we're hopeful that more women and people of color might pursue these exciting fields and ultimately increase diversity in these high-growth career clusters."
SkillUp CT also offers training tracks leading to over 100 industry certifications and will provide career coaching through the regional workforce boards.
Lamont said the program will give "hard-working Connecticut residents a beneficial training opportunity that they can utilize from their own homes."