New Connecticut law aims to help women land better-paying jobs

May 26, 2022

Read more in the Connecticut Post

Now law in Connecticut, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill that aims to draw more women back into the workforce who lost or left their jobs voluntarily during the COVID-19 pandemic, by expanding the opportunities to “skill up” for better-paying careers and get coaching from those who have found success.Under the new law, the Connecticut Office of Workforce Strategy is charged with developing new programs in conjunction with the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Possibilities include expanded apprenticeships in industries dominated today by men, like construction and manufacturing. The construction industry is on the brink of a boom, as Connecticut and other states get a massive infusion from the federal government for infrastructure projects.

OWS already lists a number of work-based learning programs and career-pathway programs as existing initiatives, but they are geared largely toward students.

“We are in the process of formulating a plan for this but will likely need a few weeks given other priorities that our office is working on,” stated Niall Dammando, chief of staff in the Office of Workforce Strategy, in an email response Wednesday to a Hearst Connecticut Media query.

Under another new law, the Connecticut General Assembly wants the state to find ways to erase the hurdles for people interested in starting new day-care centers — or help former operators start them back up if they closed during the pandemic.

The Connecticut Business & Industry Association pressed legislators in March to pass the bill to help women improve their chances at getting good-paying jobs. CBIA referenced National Women’s Law Center data that 63 percent of workers are women of those who have yet to return to the workforce since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those that left by choice, the primary causes are thought to be health concerns or the need to care for children amid interruptions in schools and afternoon programs — exacerbated by the struggles of day care centers to keep their own workers on the job, and by extension furnish a relief valve for working parents who otherwise must rely on a revolving door of family members and trusted acquaintances helping out.


CBIA government affairs attorney Ashley Zane said she hopes OWS and DECD will make professional mentor programs and career fairs for women a key element in providing upward mobility for those contemplating a return to work. Zane cited the example of Whitcraft Group, an aerospace components manufacturer with Connecticut locations in Eastford, Plainville and South Windsor.

The CEO of the Norwalk-based human resources and training consultancy OperationsInc said the Connecticut bills do not address a major criteria for some parents — lingering unease over the danger posed by the COVID-19 virus and whether day care centers are able to minimize the odds of transmission. To date, nearly 73,000 children below age 10 have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.

“There are parents — mostly women — who see daycare as an unsafe place for their kids. As such they are opting out of the workforce,” said David Lewis, CEO of OperationsInc, which has a large percentage of women in its own staff. “We need more distance from COVID, more clarity on how medicines make COVID like the flu, and less real concerns around variants.”