A new state public-private partnership initiative will link Connecticut employers and job candidates and allow workers to upgrade their skills through training courses.

The CT Back to Work Initiative includes a custom jobs portal for employers and job seekers and resources for workers to upgrade their skills using free online training courses.

Gov. Ned Lamont announced the initiative to coincide with the June 17 second phase reopening of the state's economy.

"The CT Back to Work Initiative is an innovative approach to helping both employers and employees navigate the path to economic recovery," said CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan.

"The jobs portal will link those looking for employment with available jobs and upskill the workforce, two essential functions of bouncing back from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic."

'Back to Work'

Thousands of Connecticut businesses were forced to shutter by the pandemic, causing employers to furlough or layoff hundreds of thousands of workers.

The state's economy shrank nearly 5% in the first three months of the year, and more than 600,000 people filed unemployment claims.

Lamont hopes the initiative will help employers and workers alike.

"We've got to get this state working again and we've got to get back to work safely," he said.

"This initiative will provide residents and businesses with helpful resources at no cost."

Partnerships

Connecticut partnered with Stamford-based employment website Indeed to create a job portal customized for the state's residents and employers.

Kelli-Marie Vallieres, CEO of Sound Manufacturing and Monster Power Equipment in Old Saybrook and a leader in shaping the state's manufacturing and workforce development strategy, praised the effort.

"The CT Back to Work Initiative is an immediate response to support Connecticut residents who lost their jobs due to COVID-19," Vallieres said.

"This innovative initiative was designed to provide immediate, effective, online training to support the development of skills for those interested in starting a new career in IT, business services, and manufacturing, learning new skills, or enhancing current skills.

"Those who participate in these programs will be ready to take full advantage of opportunities to engage in additional education and training programs as Connecticut returns to normal."

Free Training

Vallieres added that the 180 Skills manufacturing program "will provide an industry and academic recognizable credit that can be stacked with other credentials to enable participants to continue their training and earn additional credentials."

Last month, the state began offering free online courses through the SkillUp CT Program to workers who lost their jobs because of the pandemic.

Workers who qualified for unemployment had free access to more than 5,000 Metrix courses on information technology, business analysis, project management, digital literacy, and other fields.

Now, 180 Skills will further expand SkillUp CT by adding its services to the program.

SkillUp CT is available to individuals who filed unemployment claims and will be expanded this summer to manufacturing workers and Connecticut state college and university students.