HARD AT WORK - Feds Laud Local Labor Training Group
Capital Workforce Partners named among country's best
By KENNETH J. ST. ONGE, Hartford Business Journal Staff Writer
July 30, 2007
Here’s a novel idea: Instead of just training workers in skills they hope will lead to careers, why not try working with employers to locate employees whose backgrounds and education mesh with what the job market needs?
Good thinking, said the federal Department of Labor. Earlier this month, the agency recognized Capital Workforce Partners – North Central Connecticut’s workforce training board – for doing just that. At a July 18 awards ceremony in St. Louis, the group won the national award for “building an industry-driven workforce investment system.”
It’s an initiative begun almost two years ago, when the agency decided that it would pick four key industries in the area, and look for ways to boost the skill and education level of that workforce.
Called “Ready, Aim, Hire,” the initiative looked at advanced manufacturing, allied health, retail and hospitality, and business and finance.
“These are all fields that are in need of people, and we thought it would be a good idea to try and get those people they need,” said Alex Johnson, chief operating officer of Capital Workforce Partners.
Finding Skilled Workers
Aerospace manufacturer Flanagan Industries in Glastonbury was one of the local employers who has worked with the agency over the last 18 months to help recruit workers for it, said President Ken Flanagan.
The need was – and remains – great for skilled manufacturing workers, he said. About 75 people work on the factory floor at Flanagan. Their average age is 57.
“A lot of these workers are looking at retiring in fewer than eight years,” he said. “I was wondering what I could do to get more workers in the pipeline.”
Flanagan worked with Capital to find about five workers who were coming from other machine shops in the area that were downsizing or closing. And after touring the manufacturing program at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Flanagan set up two $4,000 scholarships that would pay for students to go to school if they worked for Flanagan after they graduate.
Capital also worked with him to secure a state grant that paid half the cost of classes for about 30 workers, including math and English.
“A lot of our workers are Polish immigrants whose first language is not English,” Flanagan said. “This type of program has helped them feel better acclimated.”
It also helps retention efforts, since it shows the company can do things for employees beyond providing a paycheck, he said.
The type of training program his group set up at Flanagan is on the cutting edge of workforce training, said Capital’s Johnson – and will be a model for more down the road.
Those could include setting up classrooms in employers buildings, where workers can receive education during different parts of the day, he said.
“The award is very encouraging,” Johnson said. “But it represents a challenge to us to continue our efforts, and keep doing what we’ve been doing. Just even better.”