New CT program aims to help build ‘best trained and most productive workforce’

STAMFORD — For Connecticut to reach its economic potential, it will need to reinvent itself as a leader in digital innovation, according to elected officials, including Governor Ned Lamont and many business and higher education leaders. They say a new workforce development program will help the state achieve that goal.

Lamont and several dozen other supporters of the new Tech Talent Accelerator gathered in Stamford on Monday to promote the initiative, which aims to help close the “skills gap” in the job market by expanding education for the fields emerging and in demand such as cybersecurity, virtual modelling, software development and numerical analysis. To that end, the initiative’s $1 million in funding will support new programs at the University of Bridgeport, University of Hartford, Mitchell University, University of New Haven, Quinnipiac University, Saint Joseph’s University, and the Connecticut State College and University System. .

“We need to have the best trained and most productive workforce in the world – that’s Connecticut’s calling card,” Lamont told a news conference at The Village resort in South Stamford. . “In the 21st century, if you don’t have the digital skills, you’re not keeping up. That’s what this program is for.

Through the new programs, Tech Talent Accelerator aims to support students like Fredlyne Antoine. The University of New Haven junior, a graduate of Norwalk-based P-Tech, is majoring in computer science with a concentration in game design.

“Three years from now, I see myself employed and making games – and I’m so grateful to everyone who gave me those opportunities,” Antoine said. “All of these accomplishments were possible because of these partnerships (in Connecticut).”

Among the new programs, the University of Bridgeport will offer a 12-week cybersecurity and information security course focused on the financial services and technology sectors.

“The Tech Talent Accelerator opens the minds of businesses to better understand that our colleges and universities are more than just partners in recruiting entry-level talent. We support lifelong learning systems,” said University of Bridgeport President Danielle Wilken. “Through this partnership, we are helping companies enable new ways to partner with higher education and create experiences for their employees to retain their talent in a rapidly changing economy.”

Within the CSCU system, faculty will work with partners to analyze data on jobs and skills demand to develop an “updated curriculum with cross-curricular digital skills”.

“We’re breaking the bureaucracy, breaking the rhetoric, and making sure we get this job done quickly,” Connecticut State Community College President John Maduko said.

Several business leaders have also expressed their support for the program.

“What makes it all work is the ecosystem approach in working together to create a strong, diverse workforce that is truly right for Connecticut,” said Martin Guay, vice president of business development for the New Britain-based tool maker Stanley Black and Decker and a co-chairman of the Hartford-based Capital Area Tech Partnership.

Paul Breitenbach, co-founder of Norwalk-based and also founder and CEO of Ridgefield-based r4 Technologies, said he’s seen plenty of evidence that Connecticut has the right environment to support innovation. digital.

“We can really be one of the leaders in the country if we work together,” Breitenbach said. “The idea that we could build a technology hub is quite feasible.”

Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons also expressed confidence in her city’s digital competitiveness.

“We aim to make Stamford a global tech hub – working on everything from expanding fintech programming at UConn-Stamford to making sure we build that pipeline of tech talent with our schools and institutes of higher learning” , Simmons said.

In addition to Tech Talent Accelerator, which is funded by the state’s Tech Talent Fund, Connecticut has recently launched several other workforce development initiatives. These other businesses include Career ConneCT, which supports programs that provide credentials and job placement services in all sectors, including manufacturing, information technology, healthcare, infrastructure and clean energy. . CareerConneCT is backed by $70 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Additionally, it was announced earlier this month that Connecticut would receive nearly $24 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Good Jobs Challenge, funds that would help up to 3,000 people pursue careers in care. healthcare, life sciences, manufacturing and information technology.

“What we’re seeing here in Connecticut is that we have a skills mismatch. We have a lot of tech jobs that are open, and we don’t have people to fill those with the skills they need,” said Kelli Vallieres, Connecticut’s director of workforce. “So when we invest in things like Tech Talent Accelerator and Career ConneCT, we’re really building the future.”

[email protected]; twitter: @paulschott

Ryan H. Bowman