Governor Ned Lamont this week ramped up workforce development efforts, tapping a number of business leaders to help address the state's needs.
Lamont signed an executive order Oct. 29 replacing the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission with the Governor's Workforce Council.
"Our education and training system today is too static and disconnected to meet the needs of Connecticut's 21st century economy," Lamont said at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury.
"The status quo will no longer do. We have to break down our silos and come together to achieve great outcomes.
"We need businesses at the table, collaborating with our schools, colleges, and labor so that our teachers know what skills to teach, and our students know what jobs will be awaiting them."
Educators, non-profit leaders, labor representatives, and elected officials comprise the rest of the council.
Lamont hinted at the council's creation earlier this month while visiting the University of Bridgeport.
With Connecticut's unemployment rate at its lowest in more than a decade, businesses face new hiring challenges.
Employers—especially manufacturers—are having difficulty finding skilled workers, a concern magnified as the baby boomer generation retires.
And while the skills gap has become a national dilemma, Connecticut's demographic trends only exacerbate the issue.
"The business community should know we are doing everything to train people for the best jobs out there," Lamont said.
"Connecticut rightly has a national reputation for its high quality, skilled workforce, and maintaining that standing is key to attracting new businesses and creating new, good paying jobs."
Lamont's announcement comes one week after he appointed veteran aerospace executive Colin Cooper as Connecticut's first chief manufacturing officer.
Cooper said workforce development will be among his priorities. The Workforce council will be asked to help coordinate the various workforce development and apprenticeship programs throughout the state.
"Our systems don't talk to each other enough, nor are we talking enough to the businesses where our students will ultimately seek employment," Lamont said.
"The status quo will no longer do. We have to break down our silos and come together to achieve great outcomes."
Council members from the business community include:
- Garrett Moran (chair), former president, Year Up
- Kevin Graney, president, General Dynamics Electric Boat
- Jim Loree, CEO, Stanley Black + Decker
- Kelli-Marie Vallieres, CEO, Sound Manufacturing
- Peter Bevacqua, president, NBC Sports
- Cindi Bigelow, CEO, Bigelow Tea
- Margaret Keane, CEO, Synchrony
- Cliff Asness, managing principal, AQR
- Marna Borgstrom, CEO, Yale New Haven Hospital
- Ravi Kumar, president, Infosys
- Chris Swift, CEO, The Hartford
- Oni Chukwu, CEO, Aventri
- Dave O'Neill, COO, Indeed
- Erika Smith, CEO, ReNetx
- Monette Ferguson, executive director, ABCD Inc.
Education Is 'Key'
Moran, who will chair the council, said education is key.
"We will not have the vitality in this state that we need if we do not learn how to learn," he said.
"A third of the jobs in our economy require a high school education, another third a four-year degree. And the last third require middle skill education."
The Workforce Council will meet four times a year with Lamont in attendance, beginning Nov. 21.
Lamont and Moran plan to meet with business leaders, educators, labor, and workers in the coming months to hear about what works and what needs improvement in the state's workforce development system.