While Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states in the nation, Hartford and some of its inner suburbs are experiencing much higher unemployment rates than the regional and state averages. A variety of industries in Connecticut have expressed a need for skilled workers, and the region’s nonprofit community and institutions of higher education have responded by offering programs to teach workers the skills they need to do these jobs.
Many residents are not taking advantage of these training and credentialing opportunities, however, because they do not know how to access the programs, they are unaware of how these programs can lead to jobs and careers, or they have not developed the required levels of literacy.
In response, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is pleased to announce the Career Pathways Initiative, a collaborative, cross-cutting approach to providing residents with education and workforce training that places them on a trajectory to ascend a career ladder in industries that have job openings. At its December 2015 meeting, the Foundation’s board of directors approved $3.95 million over three years in grants and technical assistance to support this initiative.
“The Career Pathways Initiative is a strategic approach to a serious community problem,” said Linda J. Kelly, president of the Hartford Foundation. “It requires partnerships among adult literacy, community college, workforce development and employment sectors to develop realistic and attainable career pathways leading to jobs for residents facing the most formidable barriers to success.”
The initiative targets low-literate and low-skilled residents of the Capitol Region, including single parents, at-risk youth, immigrants, homeless heads of household, former offenders, and others who need a broad range of coordinated services to be successful. The initiative enhances or expands existing programs and pilots new approaches.
“When so many residents of our region face challenges to obtaining a livable wage, the impact is felt in all aspects of community and family life,” said Sharon O’Meara, the Hartford Foundation’s director of community investments. “The Career Pathways Initiative addresses the education, job training and employment needs of residents who are most disenfranchised. It could have a significant impact on the quality of life in our region.”
Programs are designed to provide access to education, certification programs, community colleges, four-year colleges and jobs. Education and training are designed to meet adult learners where they are and prepare them for successive rungs of a career ladder.
The Career Pathways Initiative will focus on three specific areas: 1) individual career pathway program collaborations; 2) creating opportunities for providers to meet regularly to discuss challenges and opportunities to more effectively do this work; 3) implementing a model for an integrated regional career pathways system. MoveUP!, the capital region’s adult literacy partnership, will provide technical assistance to the participating organizations. Both individual programs and the overall project will be evaluated as part of the initiative.
Each of the nine collaborations funded through this initiative is led by one of the following agencies:
Capitol Region Education Council – Provide contextualized learning in the medical office assistant field to English language learners. Participants will achieve a Medical Office Assistant certificate.
Chrysalis Center, Inc. – Develop individualized plans for residents with the ultimate goal of sustainable employment in the construction, healthcare or hospitality industries. The program will include industry education, literacy and technology instruction, job development and support for job-seeking.
Community Partners in Action, Inc. – Enhance Project STARR, an education and job training program for ex-offenders. The proposal will add training slots that had previously been lost and add a job developer that will support participants during job training, recruitment, hiring and retention.
Goodwin College – Pilot a manufacturing career pathways program that combines contextualized learning, credentialing in manufacturing, financial aid, support services, job placement and supportive employment.
Hartford Public Library – Enhance career pathways for immigrants within the food, tourism and hospitality industries. Participants will go through training in food preparation and service as well as job readiness and on-the-job training.
Journey Home – Expand and enhance the Aerospace Employment Placement Program, which provides pre- and post-employment training, collaborative mentoring, and help obtaining stackable, industry-recognized credentials in manufacturing.
Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford – Expand LVGH's capacity to move low-literate adults forward along a career pathway, including job-seeking assistance and a pilot food service certification program.
Our Piece of the Pie – Pilot a degree-earning program in partnership with OPPortunity Academy and College for America. Students at Opportunity Academy would be dual-enrolled in high school and college programs, completing an associate's degree debt-free with related work experience.
YWCA Hartford Region, Inc. – Create a career pathway for women with children to receive support services for themselves and their families, earn postsecondary credentials, and acquire jobs that pay livable wages in healthcare, manufacturing and technology.