September 8, 2006
Thank you, Congresswoman Johnson.
It is great to be here today on the campus of Naugatuck Valley Community College to present an important grant to help Connecticut's workers.
I always enjoy spending time with Congresswoman Johnson. She is one of Washington's most respected voices on education, labor, and economic issues. She knows that to stay competitive, our dynamic economy needs a dynamic and well-trained workforce. And she is a passionate advocate for Connecticut's workers.
Congresswoman Johnson deeply appreciates the critical role that America's workers play in maintaining our nation's economic growth and competitiveness. Our economy has produced 36 straight consecutive months of job growth for our nation. Over 5.7 million net new jobs were created during the last three years. The national employment rate for August was 4.7 percent. That's a full percentage point lower than the unemployment rate of 5.7 percent in the decade of the 1990's.
Connecticut's unemployment rate, as of July 2006, stood at 4.3 percent — even lower than the national average. Your August unemployment report won't come out until later this month. But the fastest growing sectors of your economy continue to mirror national trends: education and health services, as well as professional and business services, led job creation in Connecticut.
Education and health services added 13,100 new jobs since September 2003, while professional and business services added another 8,800.
While our economy is doing well, we all know there are still challenges.
Our country is transitioning to a knowledge-based economy. This transition has created millions of new jobs in industries that did not even exist a generation ago. The majority of new jobs created require workers with higher skills and more education, so by definition, they are good paying jobs.
The mismatch between the skills of some of our workers and the skills needed for these new jobs is called the "skills gap."
Now, the new jobs being created don't necessarily need workers with a 4-year college degree. There are many new jobs for workers with a 2-year degree from a community college or specialized training. That includes apprenticeships, which combine classroom and on-the-job training. In fact, apprenticeship programs are wonderful opportunities for workers to get highly marketable skills and invest in their futures. But, as Congresswoman Johnson knows, today it's more important than ever before for workers to have some kind of education and job training beyond high school.
The Department's updated Occupational Outlook Handbook shows that the demand for skilled workers will be strong. Our country will need 4.9 million new workers in health-care related occupations, including 1.2 million registered nurses, in the next 10 years. We will also need workers in information technology, biotechnology, geospatial technology, advanced manufacturing, financial services, education and skilled trades.
Connecticut will need a tremendous number of skilled workers in the coming years.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — that's part of the Labor Department — by 2012 Connecticut will need:
- 49 percent more personal financial advisors;
- 49 percent more medical assistants;
- 43 percent more broadcast technicians;
- 40 percent more network systems and data communications technicians; and
- 37 percent more motorcycle mechanics!
The President has launched many new initiatives to help Connecticut's workers get the education and technical skills they need to access these growing opportunities. He especially recognizes the value of community colleges in keeping our nation's workforce competitive, as today's grant shows.
So now, I am so pleased that Congresswoman Johnson is here to help announce a $2,748,405 grant to the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development to help train workers for the financial and insurance services industry. Its partners in this grant include The Workplace, Inc., Capital Community College and the Connecticut community college system and the Connecticut Insurance and Financial Services Cluster. These organizations will work together to provide valuable in-kind support to develop an insurance and financial services university program for Connecticut's growing workforce.
Today's grant will help to develop a comprehensive course to train students for the financial and insurance services industry. And it is a first for Connecticut. It will help establish Connecticut's first two-year degree program in insurance and financial services. The curriculum will also prepare students to enter degree programs for certified public accountants and certified financial advisors. A minimum of 275 presently-employed workers, and 125 dislocated or unemployed workers, will benefit initially from this grant. And it is our hope that this project, once concluded, will serve as a model throughout Connecticut for developing the future insurance and financial sector workforce.
So now, I would like to ask Congresswoman Johnson to join me in presenting this check for $2,748,405 to Joe Carbone, President of The Workplace, Inc.
The press release was published by U.S. Department of Labor. The Publisher web address is http://www.dol.gov/index.htm