Sen. Cicarella, CT Senate Republicans Unveil ‘Opportunity for All’ Plan to Bolster CT’s Workforce, Grow Jobs

February 28, 2023


Deputy Senate Republican Leader Paul Cicarella today joined Connecticut Senate Republicans to unveil “A Better Way to Opportunity for All and A Vibrant Workforce” – a package of legislative proposals aimed at bolstering Connecticut’s workforce and addressing shortages in key industries.


The proposals include policies to address the teacher and health care worker shortage, bolster career pathway development, enhance work-based learning experiences, boost vocational program recruitment for middle school-aged children, require financial literacy education in Connecticut schools, and promote trade school enrollment.


Many of the policies within the proposal are the result of more than 30 meetings over the past year between Senator Cicarella and local and statewide stakeholders to identify the state’s workforce needs.


Also joining Senator Cicarella was Banton Construction Director of Operations Paul Brandt. Located in North Haven, Banton Construction’s founder and president Frank Pullano, along with Brandt, were a resource to Senator Cicarella in developing parts of the “Opportunity for All” package.


The plan:


  • Requires the state to develop a new program for an accelerated pathway to certification for teachers in trades.
  • Requires the state to expand reciprocity opportunities for out-of-state teachers.
  • Requires the state to work with the Connecticut Hospital Association to develop curriculum for a high school “Health Care Academy.”
  • Requires high schools to discuss the benefits of attending a trade school alongside any discussions of enrolling at a traditional two- or four-year college.
  • Examines barriers to transportation for work-based learning experiences.
  • Requires the state to develop guidelines for hosting successful job fairs at high schools.
  • Reestablishes a vo-tech ambassador program to share information with students in middle schools to make school children more aware of future opportunities.
  • Requires the state to develop a program to reach out to high school graduates not attending college or working in a trade within three months of graduation regarding alternative pathways to careers.
  • Initiates a state review and audit of workforce development programs to assess for effectiveness and performance.
  • Requires financial literacy education in Connecticut schools.
  • Creates a “Buy CT to Build CT” program to incentivize defense contractors to create and support jobs.


Senator Cicarella said, “Connecticut’s workforce faces many challenges in today’s economy, but we are fortunate to have so many excellent businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, and schools that are doing their part to help our future skilled workforce and entrepreneurs. However, it’s apparent that we’re lacking cohesion in our efforts. There is an evident duplication of services, and many of these organizations operate in silos, limiting their effectiveness.


“We must work together to break down these silos and leverage best practices to ensure that our state funding benefits Connecticut job-seekers and employers. We have some great workforce development models in our community, like the JoeAbate Charitable Foundation’s Igniting Talent program and local school programs.


“We’ve also built outstanding relationships with many other local stakeholders like HUBCAP Wallingford, which helped us begin this conversation last year with a productive roundtable discussion with local businesses, educators, nonprofits and government agencies. I’m excited to work with everyone to replicate these successes and create a cohesive approach to workforce development in the state. Doing this, we can ensure that our workforce is prepared to meet the demands of a rapidly changing economy and everyone has an opportunity to prosper in Connecticut.”


Read the plan here.