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May 3, 2024

Barbara Dalio to CT biz leaders: Mentoring, training programs key to engaging ‘disconnected’ youth

Brian Ambrose Photography Barbara Dalio speaking at HBJ's Women in Business event on Thursday, May 2.
Brian Ambrose Photography
Brian Ambrose Photography

To help solve Connecticut’s workforce shortage, business leaders must place more emphasis on mentoring and training programs, which can be especially beneficial in engaging disconnected youth. 

That was the message delivered by Barbara Dalio Thursday night at Hartford Business Journal’s Women in Business event, which highlighted top leaders from around the state.

Dalio, the founder and co-CEO of nonprofit Dalio Education and wife of Connecticut hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio, was the event’s keynote speaker. She spoke for about 15 minutes in front of a crowd of over 250 people at the Aqua Turf Club in the Plantsville section of Southington. 

Dalio Education has been in the headlines since last October when it released a report (“Connecticut’s Unspoken Crisis”) that raised alarm bells among policymakers, municipal leaders and others. It found that more than 119,000, or about 19%, of young people in Connecticut between the ages of 14 and 26 were “at risk” or “disconnected,” meaning they were in danger of not graduating from high school, or they were high school graduates who were unemployed and not enrolled in higher education. 

These 119,000 young people live in every city and town of the state, not just urban centers, demonstrating the pervasiveness of the issue, Dalio said Thursday. 

Following publication of the report, Dalio said she is trying to engage the business community and municipal leaders to help address the issue, and Dalio Education recently formed partnerships with the Connecticut Business & Industry Association and Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

Dalio also recently co-authored an op-ed in the HBJ with CBIA CEO Chris DiPentima that linked the state’s workforce shortage to the disconnected youth issue.

There are currently about 86,000 open jobs in Connecticut, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“We cannot solve the labor shortage without improving and implementing career pathways and opportunities for women, immigrants, returning citizens, veterans and those from underserved and often forgotten communities,” the March 18 op-ed said. “That’s why CBIA and Dalio Education are working together to amplify efforts highlighting Connecticut’s young adults who are at-risk or disconnected from education and employment, and advance solutions to a statewide issue that has enormous human and economic cost.”

Dalio said Thursday that mentoring, skills-based training and apprenticeship programs can be beneficial in providing opportunities for disconnected youth, while also helping employers fill open positions.

Dalio Education’s report is also having an impact on public policy. The state House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill that requires the state to compile regular reports on “disconnected youth.”

A CT Mirror report contributed to this story. 

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