GOP Lawmakers Outline Bills to Encourage Young People to Find Jobs in the Trades


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HARTFORD – Republican legislators on Tuesdays outlined three bills to bring more young people into professions currently facing shortfalls of workers.

The bills focus on trades that do not require college degrees, including manufacturing and construction. One bill would require the state Department of Education to create a framework for “career pathway training programs” and streamline the process for people in the trades to earn a teacher certification. 

“We want to encourage the state to take the lead in creating those career pathways — pathways to becoming a nurse or a teacher, construction, trade work, educator, IT, hospitality, finance, marketing and more,” said State Sen. Henri Martin, R-Bristol.

Martin said that during his years on the board of directors of the chamber of commerce in Bristol, he heard from manufacturers that students were unprepared to enter the workforce. He said that manufacturing work had often been “stigmatized” as students were told that they needed to go to college in order to succeed. 

“That was the start of what I’ve been hearing for years: a retiring workforce with no workers to fill the gap,” he said.

Martin said that some school districts and associations had already developed apprenticeships and internship programs, but that these were “small pockets” with programs in their “infant” stage. 

“More needs to be done to cover the entire state,” said Martin. 

Another bill would require a group of state agencies to work with the Connecticut Hospital Association to create a curriculum for a “Health Care Academy Program” that would give high schoolers certification to work in healthcare fields. 

Republican proposals would also require the department to distribute information about vocational and technical schools to middle schoolers and information about trade schools to high schoolers who are applying for federal financial aid. 

“There’s a help-wanted sign everywhere,” said State Sen. Paul Cicarella, R-East Haven. “We have a lot of open positions out there and we have a very large population of professionals that are going to be retiring.” 

Ciccarella said their plan also required young people to study financial literacy. He talked about a school district that does an exercise where it sets up a fake store in the gymnasium and have the students pay their bills using fake money the school distributes.

“The kids were shocked to realize they had to pay their own cell phone bill. That’s a problem,” said Ciccarella. 

Ciccarella also talked about “retraining” for people who didn’t go to college or trade school and connect them with companies looking to hire. He said he’d heard representatives from the construction industry who were telling school administrators how much they needed young people to enter the profession. 

“They were explaining that these were great careers — retirement, benefits,” said Ciccarella. “And we have to connect these groups together.” 

Senate Democrats did not respond to a request for comment by the time this article was published.

Emilia Otte

Emilia Otte covers health and education for the Connecticut Examiner. In 2022 Otte was awarded "Rookie of the Year," by the New England Newspaper & Press Association.