Senate Republicans eye educational options

March 1, 2023

Senate Republicans eye educational options

(Waterbury Republican-American)

Senate Republicans on Tuesday highlighted a series of caucus proposals on workforce development, including several targeting middle and high school students.

“For far too long, our children have been hearing that to be successful you need to go to college,” said Sen. Henri Martin, R-Bristol, a co-author of the GOP package on career pathways.

Republicans are proposing to require school systems distribute information concerning vocational agriculture programs, technical education and vocational opportunities to students in middle schools. In addition, this legislation would direct high schools to discuss the benefits of attending a trade school during any presentation related to the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Republicans also proposed to require the state Department of Education to develop guidelines for hosting job fairs at high schools, and survey each high school annually on the number of job fairs held and the results.

Another proposal would create a “Health Care Academy” program that provides training and certification for high school graduates to work in high-demand health care occupations. The departments of Public Health, Education and Labor would work with Connecticut Hospital Association to develop the curriculum.

Senate Republicans would direct the Department of Labor 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.

Another initiative proposes to have the Department of Education establish accelerated alternative routes to teacher certification for people trained and licensed in trades to become high school instructors.

“That is something we have to make sure happens and that you have the skills that are needed in the workforce being taught in the classroom by the actual people who are doing both,” said Senate Minority Leader Kevin C. Kelly, R-Stratford. “I think that is critical.”

Currently, experienced tradespeople have to work one year as a student teacher before being certified, said Sen. Paul Cicarella, R-North Haven, the other co-author of the Senate GOP package on workforce development.
“We need to look at that. That is deterring teachers from going into the business,” he said.

In many cases, these tradespeople still have to hold down full-time jobs and attend courses to stay current in their own training, Cicarella said.
“It is hard to have a plumber to have all of the credentials to be a teacher,” he said. “It is hard to find electricians to have all of the credentials to be a teacher, and we really need the students to know what it is like to be in the profession, in the trades and being trained by people with that institutional knowledge.”

A related proposal would establish a working group to investigate transportation barriers to provide worked-based learning experience for high school students.

Senate Republicans also are proposing a “Buy CT to Build CT” program to provide sales-tax exemptions and research-and-development tax credits as incentives to state-based defense contractors and subcontractors to do business with in-state suppliers.

“You can make a very good living working in defense contracting,” Kelly said.