March 27, 2017

Manufacturing not the only CT sector lacking workers

Labor shortages in Connecticut's manufacturing sector have been well publicized in recent years.

But some observers say employment opportunities in health care and hands-on trades like electrical and carpentry, even agricultural jobs, are also precariously slow in filling openings because the pool of qualified talent is too small and too slow to replenish.

The aging of the state's healthcare workforce is posing staffing challenges at a time when Connecticut's aging population is increasingly reliant on in- and outpatient care, said Andrea Comer, executive director of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association's Education and Workforce Partnership.

Based on state labor department data, she said four in 10 of Connecticut's healthcare workforce are between the ages of 45 and 64, and one in five is 55 to 64 years old.

Meantime, from 2009 to 2013, Connecticut underwent seven hospital consolidations, which reduced healthcare staffing counts, Comer said.

One solution, according to Rocky Hill business consultancy CONNSTEP Inc., is more and varied workplace training. Also, business leaders today "have to be much more strategic in their thinking about the people they are recruiting and the skillsets," said CONNSTEP President/CEO Bonnie Del Conte.

"You need to really be looking at a mix of internal training, along with outside training,'' Del Conte said.

CONNSTEP, which runs worker-certification programs twice a year, has added a new session this spring.

Gregory Seay

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