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February 9, 2023

Lamont earmarks $39M for additional workforce development efforts

HBJ PHOTO | STEVE LASCHEVER Kelli-Marie Vallieres, the state’s chief workforce officer, said the Lamont administration’s focus is on having business input on college programs and curriculums.

Gov. Ned Lamont has made workforce development a key issue going into his second term, and his two-year, $50.5 billion budget proposal sets aside tens of millions of dollars to try to address it. 

Lamont’s budget outlines $30 million in fiscal 2024 and $9 million in fiscal 2025 for workforce development initiatives. 

Those totals don’t include a major proposed ramp-up in spending on affordable and workforce housing, which Lamont said is also key to growing the state’s population and workforce. Connecticut employers reported 102,000 job openings at the end of November.

Lamont’s proposal includes making the Office of Workforce Strategy, currently led by former manufacturing executive Kelli-Marie Vallieres, a standalone agency. OWS is currently within the governor’s office. 

The governor's budget earmarks $1.5 million for the workforce strategy office over two years, which would pay for current staff and one new position.
Lamont said a key focus will be to continue to develop short-term certificate training programs working with employers and the trades to train the next generation of workers. A key focus has been placed on manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, transportation, green jobs, and life sciences, he said.

The new spending includes: 

  • $10 million in federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds for the state Department of Education to support school districts with staffing issues, including addressing the paraprofessional shortage.
  • $8.65 million in fiscal 2024 and $8.9 million in fiscal 2025 for the Special Transportation Fund to support the expansion of bus services specifically to support workforce transportation.
  • $1 million in ARPA funds for the Department of Administrative Services to expand the Healthcare Workforce Recruitment campaign to out‐of‐state markets.
  • An additional $10 million for the Department of Labor’s CT Youth Employment Program, which provides job opportunities and work experiences for economically disadvantaged youth from ages 14.

Separately, Lamont has proposed to increase from 5% to 10% the business tax credit that encourages companies to invest in human capital, such as sponsoring new work education and training programs. The 5% credit would increase to 25% for spending to help employees with child-care expenses. These changes would cost the state roughly $3.5 million per year.

A CT Mirror report was used in this story. 

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