The Department of Labor has awarded a four-year, $5.5 million grant to the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB) and the Workforce Alliance to train 567 unemployed workers and help them find jobs in high-tech fields. The grant was awarded after Connecticut exceeded the aims of an earlier phase of training as part of the Labor Department's Ready to Work program.
The initiative's aim is to give American workers the necessary training to take specialized jobs that would otherwise go to immigrants. The program is funded by H-1B visa fees, which are paid by companies that hire foreign nationals for jobs that require at least a bachelor's degree, especially those in STEM fields.
"This grant does more than put people back to work," said Workforce Alliance president William P. Villano. "It builds Connecticut's competitive advantage in high-skilled industries by targeting the skills gap in important sectors of the regional economy. All participants will be trained for and placed in career-path positions in one of the targeted fields."
Among the participating organizations are the Universities of Connecticut and New Haven, Connecticut's four state universities and 12 community colleges and over 100 private firms, including Meriden biotech company Protein Sciences. Connecticut's first round of Ready to Work training resulted in jobs for 454 people, well over the original goal of 361. Overall, the Labor Department has awarded nearly $170 million to nearly every state in Ready to Work grants.
As this blog has reported, Connecticut has launched initiatives of its own in recent times to help its engineering, life sciences and software developing companies remain competitive. Local authorities and private companies are working together to make the state a technology leader.