Senator Linares’ Apprenticeship Bill Well Received at Hearing

March 9, 2017

A bill proposed by State Senator Arthur Linares (R-33) received a favorable reception during a public hearing before the legislature’s Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee today.

SB 837, An Act Concerning Apprenticeship Opportunities for High Growth, High Demand Jobs, was proposed by Sen. Linares to study how Connecticut can create public-private partnerships to identify high-growth, high-demand job fields that would benefit from publicly supported apprenticeship programs.

“I believe apprenticeships can plan a key role in the future of Connecticut’s economy,” Sen. Linares said. “A recent report from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development expects demand for skilled workers in Eastern Connecticut to grow exponentially over the next few years. Identifying the fields and businesses where apprenticeships can make the most difference will help grow businesses and the local economy while providing local workers the skills and a career path for the future.”

Department of Labor (DOL) Commissioner Scott D. Jackson spoke favorably to the committee about the bill. He said DOL wants a seat at the table when the state considers the creation of apprenticeship programs and wants to be part of any task force created by Sen. Linares’ legislation.

“Apprenticeships in Connecticut is good news, but we can do better,” Commissioner Jackson said. “Right now, Connecticut is at the head of the pack when it comes to apprenticeships. We are the gold standard and the federal Department of Labor is looking at what we are doing. There’s a lot of energy around apprenticeships right now and we’d like to tap into that.”

Commissioner Jackson was joined by DOL Office of Apprenticeship Training Program Manager Todd Berch, who said the state’s existing apprenticeship programs are highly successful. He said the state’s Office of Apprenticeship Training has a comprehensive list of available apprenticeships and would like to expand its program to more businesses and more fields.

Sen. Linares said he hopes the state will see a growth in available apprenticeships.

“The more apprenticeships we have, the more people who are working in our state,” he said, “and that means more people who stay in Connecticut.”

Andrew J. Gibson, CEO of AeroCision, said he came to Hartford to speak in favor of the apprenticeship bill because, “It’s a no brainer.”

Gibson’s company is a small manufacturer located in Chester and he said he is always looking for ways to attract skilled workers or those who want to learn the skills AeroCision needs.

“We have engineers; we have software specialists,” Gibson said. “These are highly skilled workers and we pay a higher salary than other manufacturers because of the skills we need.”

Sen. Linares said he hopes the bill will be approved by the legislature and he looks forward to working with DOL, AeroCision, and other presenters who support apprenticeships in Connecticut.

Sen. Linares represents the communities of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook