First-year Hartford Public High School students have a big decision to make this week—choose a traditional academic route or pursue a pathway towards a career in healthcare or engineering and technology. 

“This is actually a big deal,” Hartford High principal Flora Padro says. “It’s a milestone in their academic career.”

CBIA's Chris DiPentima, ReadyCT's Shannon Marimón, and Hartford HealthCare's Tracy Church spoke with students at Hartford High March 22.

It’s also a big deal for the business community, with job openings at a record high amid a growing labor shortage crisis. 

“If every unemployed person today were to get a job, we would still have north of 18,000 jobs open in Connecticut,” CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima told students and staff at the school March 22. 

Pathways Gain Momentum

ReadyCT supports six pathway programs throughout Hartford Public Schools, with various businesses sponsoring each pathway. 

The CBIA affiliate leads the work-readiness instruction that helps students prepare for internships and ultimately job placement. 

At Hartford High, Hartford HealthCare and Raytheon Technologies sponsor the allied health and engineering and green technology pathways, respectively.  

About 40 sophomore students are enrolled in the allied health partnership launched this year. 

Hands-On Experience

“I know this pathway will help me sharpen those skills that are crucial in the work environment or in any career in general,” Hartford High sophomore Dazania Williams said. 

Williams knew she had a general interest in the field when she started the program. Now, she’s setting her career sights on becoming a midwife. 

Since the start of the semester, she earned her first aid and CPR/AED certifications, volunteered at a Red Cross Blood Drive, and landed a summer internship in bioscience. 

"This pathway will help me sharpen those skills that are crucial in the work environment." 

Sophomore Dazania Williams

"The students' eagerness for more work-based learning opportunities is evident with every program opportunity we offer,” said ReadyCT executive director Shannon Marimón. 

“From blood drives to CPR training to first aid instruction, they're embracing all of it.”

Dozens of other freshmen are expected to sign up to join the allied health program this week. 

Collaboration

“This is such a magic moment,” said Hartford Healthcare executive vice president Tracy Church. “We are so thrilled to be a partner.”

Church said Hartford Healthcare has more than 3,000 openings across its network. She said programs like this help build the talent pipeline. 

The company recently announced a partnership with Quinnipiac University to support job growth initiatives at the higher education level as well. 

"These pathway programs need to be in every school system in Connecticut."

CBIA's Chris DiPentima

DiPentima said the collaboration between educational institutions, companies, and organizations is key to building a strong workforce.

“These pathway programs not only need to be scaled up here in Hartford, but they need to be in every school system in the state of Connecticut,” DiPentima said.

“That is how we are going to address this labor shortage crisis.”