Hartford Foundation Testimony in Support of Senate Bill 881 An Act Concerning Workforce Development

Read the Foundation's Testimony

On Tuesday, March 2, the Hartford Foundation submitted testimony to the legislature’s Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee in support of Senate Bill 881, An Act Concerning Workforce Development.

As part of our efforts to dismantle structural racism and improve social and economic mobility for Black and Latinx residents of Greater Hartford, the Hartford Foundation seeks to increase stable employment opportunities for adults and youth in our region facing barriers to employment.

In Greater Hartford, there are a number of job openings, but there is misalignment between the skillsets required and the skills of the current workforce. The Foundation’s efforts focus on increasing hiring and retention of residents with significant barriers to employment, including returning citizens and opportunity youth disconnected from school and work. Among students in Greater Hartford’s Alliance Districts, our efforts aim to increase employment and career exposure and increase post-secondary degree and credential completion, including 2Gen approaches that focus training, childcare and other supports to the needs in families. This work recognizes that all residents of our region need access to employment options that provide a sustaining wage.

Hartford Foundation for Public Giving President Jay Williams served as a member of Governor Lamont's Workforce Council to support Connecticut’s efforts to create a better pipeline between high school and postsecondary education, increasing access to workforce training programs, and improving use and collection of workforce data.  The Foundation offers its support of support of Senate Bill 881, An Act Concerning Workforce Development as it seeks to restructure state agencies responsible for education and workforce development to more nimbly and effectively help residents achieve their education and workforce goals.

The Foundation also supported the bill’s inclusion of measures that could contribute to more high school students accessing Pell grants and going on to post-secondary education. These efforts include the Connecticut Automatic Admissions Program which will also encourage students to stay in Connecticut for college and beyond.

In addition, the measure would create a new entity, the Office of Workforce Strategy (OWS), to improve coordination among state agencies integral to workforce development efforts. OWS will support agencies in reviewing program design and improving outcomes, including using data collected pursuant to this bill. OWS will help position the state to be more competitive for federal grant opportunities. The Foundation hopes that this new office will also work with nonprofit organizations providing workforce training to support program alignment with the state’s workforce goals. OWS can also build relationships with foundation and other philanthropic workforce development investors to strengthen public/private partnerships.

The Foundation also offered its support for Governor Lamont’s proposal to use $40 million in state bond funding to create the CareerConneCT workforce training initiative to provide high-quality training to thousands of residents who lost their jobs during the COVID pandemic.