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Posts Tagged: Workforce Development

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Since the financial downturn that prompted the Great Recession, policymakers and advocates have taken great strides to support job creation and economic development.  Although the national unemployment rate has decreased from 10 percent to 7.3 percent, further steps must be taken to improve employment within the United States. Today’s workforce is faced with several barriers in achieving this goal; the most prevalent being the growing gap in skills and education.  While national and state programs aim to improve the competitiveness of the current workforce, such initiatives are not enough.  Based on these issues, several states have taken steps to form industry partnerships which utilize sector-based strategies as a means to eliminate the existing skills mismatch. 

Sector-based strategies are a workforce development initiative that partners businesses with community organizations and training providers in order to address the needs of employers and workers.  By providing employers with the resources to effectively train under-skilled employees, businesses are able to expand work quality and efficiency while advancing the skills and opportunities of their workers.  Ultimately, sector-based strategies promote job growth and enable a faster recovery from the great recession.  

An example of a successful sector-based strategy initiative is the “Job Ready” program in Pennsylvania.  In 2005, Pennsylvania’s “Job Ready” program was enacted by former Governor Ed Rendell to gain understanding of the basic industry needs and invest in workforce development in an efficient and effective manner. State funding was allocated to nine sector initiatives focusing on industry partnerships and incumbent worker training.  In one year, “Job Ready” established approximately 70 industry partnerships, and trained more than 7,500 workers throughout 900 companies.

Today, state governments are using sector-based strategies as a key element of workforce and economic development policies.  The need for programs such as these within the state of Connecticut is essential for job growth and opportunities.  Read more about the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund’s involvement with the Campaign for a Working Connecticut and sector-based strategies.

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Nina Candels is a CWEALF social work intern from the University of Saint Joseph, who is specializing in policy and the Campaign for a Working Connecticut.

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When I started the Campaign for a Working CT in 2005, I was determined to bring together a diverse group of people to advocate for state investment in workforce development. Thirty individuals met that year to help establish Campaign goals and activities and to set our first legislative agenda calling for $9.5 million to support education and training for youth and adults.   Eight years later we are still together, still raising awareness of the importance of education and training for low skilled workers, and still fighting for resources for Connecticut’s unemployed and underemployed. 

This year the Campaign’s legislative agenda calls for support of industry sector strategies to meet business’ need for skilled workers and workers’ need for good jobs.   More than half the nation’s states are exploring or implementing sector strategies as a promising model.  Sector strategies offer a mechanism to focus scarce resources on industries that are major job providers in an area as well as to focus comprehensively on the workforce skills, from entry level to advanced, required in a regional economy. 

These collaborations bring together regional groups of employers, educational institutions and workforce agencies to identify common workforce needs for high-demand occupations within a target industry and develop and implement industry strategies to meet the common workforce shortages based on regional labor market demands.  Modeled after successful legislation in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland, the Campaign is calling on the Connecticut legislature to make a substantial investment in industry-based partnerships to bridge the gap between specific employer workforce needs and the skills of workers.  

One example of this type of partnership is the Workforce Solutions Collaborative of Metro Hartford, a network of public and private organizations that invests in the development of a self-sufficient workforce with skills regional employers need to successfully compete in the today’s economy.  The Collaborative, with grants from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions as well as from local funders such as the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and the United Way of North Central and Northeastern CT, is investing in industry partnerships in the Greater Hartford region in healthcare, manufacturing and other sectors.  Through the industry partnerships, employers and educators are coming together to align curriculum and ensure that program graduates match the hiring requirements of current job openings.  CWEALF leads the Collaborative’s policy and advocacy efforts in coordination with the Campaign and will be showcasing this type of industry partnership in its legislator education this session. 

If you would like to follow the activities of the Campaign, join our email list by sending an email to cwealf@cwealf.org and we will keep you informed about our policy agenda, community education activities, and legislative action. 

Written by Alice Pritchard, PhD. Alice is the Executive Director of the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF).

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CWEALF works every year to ensure that the needs of women and their families are heard and supported within the Connecticut General Assembly, and this last session was no different. CWEALF’s main focus areas this year included workforce and education, family law, disability rights, economic supports and equal access to the courts.

CWEALF’s biggest challenges this past year centered around alimony and child custody laws. We convened a coalition that opposed a bill proposing a formula for calculating alimony because it would have eliminated the current, highly-individualized way the court determines alimony.  We also opposed a bill that would have created a presumption of shared child custody because this too would have impaired the court’s current review, which determines the best interests of the child on an individual basis.

These are only two of the many bills on which we provided testimony and advocacy.  From sexual assault to youth employment and worker training, read about the many ways that CWEALF worked to protect the rights of Connecticut women and girls by clicking here to read our 2013 Legislative Session Wrap-Up.

 

Written by Linda Manville Kaphaem. Linda is a Reproductive Justice Advocate and a CWEALF intern.

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CWEALF is passionate about creating opportunities for women and their families so that they can be self-sufficient. This is why we co-convene MetroHartford Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (MACH), a partnership that brings together employers and educators to design programs that prepare low income workers for jobs in healthcare.

On June 25, 2013 at the Boat House in Hartford, MACH came together in recognition of these efforts, and more importantly, celebrated its participants and graduates of the Enhanced Certified Nurses Aid Training program. The space teemed with laughter, gratitude and accomplishment.  And then, one of our graduates stepped on stage, and the room hushed.

Adjusting the brim of her glasses, this usually demure woman held her head high over the podium and proudly swept her eyes across the room, staring back at peers, mentors, funders, program partners and employers. “My name is Gail Moran,” she opened, “I am a homeowner, mother, and I am also 57 years old.”

You read correctly. 57.

In her earlier years, when Gail first attempted college, she looked to be pursing her calling when she declared biology as her major. However, after meeting her husband and having children, like many women Gail put aside her aspirations for the sake of caring for her family. She later went back to school but switched her concentration to information technology, a decision followed by more than 30 years of various jobs that, as she put it, “fed my pocket, but not my soul.”

Then, for the first time in her life, Gail found herself unemployed. Persistent search efforts proved fruitless as Gail was laid off 3 more times, leaving the mother of two jobless for a total of five years. 

But if you haven’t already figured it out, Gail is an amazingly determined woman. While continuing her search, she came across a flyer informing her of our enhanced CNA program. Having just seen her youngest child graduate college, Gail grabbed hold of the opportunity. Finally, it was her time.

The rest is history. Gail was named valedictorian of her class. When offered two promising internship opportunities, she found herself torn. So, she did what any woman with a red cape and the letter “S” on her chest would do—she successfully took on both internships and worked 80 hour shifts for the duration of the program. Shrugging her shoulders, she told us “This way, I got twice the experience.” She has since been offered full time employment and continues to pursue higher education.

As her speech ended, Gail looked up from her notes and back at all of us. Her eyes welled with tears. And we felt it: the years of sacrifice, every dream deferred, the hard work—was all bundled into this triumphant moment. Lightly wiping away a tear (as we wiped away ours) she concluded, “MACH and all of the wonderful people associated with it do not only help women like me find jobs—it helps us change our lives.”

Written by Denise Poventud. Denise is the Office Coordinator at CWEALF.

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A recent New York Times article, based on a report published by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, discusses the positions of high school graduates who are not full-time students. According to a national survey, only 16 percent of people who graduated since 2009 have full-time jobs and 22 percent are working part-time.  Many graduates are pessimistic about their opportunities for future employment and financial success. 73 percent believe that more education could help them, but not many are sure that they will enroll in schools anytime soon.

This article does not clarify the types of further education and college degrees that these graduates believe they need.  The distinction appears to be between those who do and do not have bachelor’s degrees. This ignores consideration of a key sector of the workforce: middle-skill jobs. Middle-skill jobs need a higher level of education than high school but do not require a four-year degree.  Requirements can include associate’s degrees, apprenticeship programs, and vocational certificates.  Middle-skill jobs could likely be the right opportunity for the many high school graduates who are not looking to enroll in four-year institutions.

According to the National Skills Coalition, about half of all employment and job openings in the country are for middle-skill jobs and this trend remains the same in Connecticut.  Many of these jobs offer economic security and an opportunity for increases in wages.  The future growth of Connecticut’s economy depends on workers being able to meet the large demand for middle-skill jobs. The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF) fully supports the National Skills Coalition’s strong recommendations for Connecticut to encourage and invest in its residents’ training for middle-skill jobs. To learn more about CWEALF’s Campaign for a Working Connecticut (CWCT) please visit their website.

Written by Sarah Trench. Sarah is a volunteer blogger for the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF).

Sources:
Bill Owens. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved February 23, 2012, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/billowens167727.html
Howard Getson (12/06/09). Capitoligix Commentary. Retrieved February 23, 2012 from Capitologix Web site: http://capitalogix.typepad.com/public/2009/12/capitalogix-commentary-120609.html
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Written by Lauren Goodman. Lauren is a Community Organizing Major at the UConn School of Social Work and is an intern at the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund.

Sources:

Bill Owens. (n.d.). BrainyQuote.com. Retrieved February 23, 2012, from BrainyQuote.com Web site: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/billowens167727.html

Howard Getson (12/06/09). Capitoligix Commentary. Retrieved February 23, 2012 from Capitologix Web site: http://capitalogix.typepad.com/public/2009/12/capitalogix-commentary-120609.html

Written by Lauren Goodman. Lauren is a Community Organizing Major at the UConn School of Social Work and is an intern at the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund.