With the state ineligible for extended unemployment benefits due to dropping unemployment rates, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wants out-of-work residents to know the resources the state has in place to help them find jobs.
Malloy participated in a roundtable discussion Thursday with some job seekers at the CTWorks Career Center in Hartford. He said with residents losing their benefits, the state needs to “step up our game” when it comes to the jobless.
“We’ve got to be as vigilant about getting this information out as we ever were,” he said. “Particularly around this issue involving people actually losing benefits. We’ve not dealt with that as a state in a very long time and we’ve certainly not dealt with it in the magnitude that we’re going to deal with it now.”
The governor took in some personal stories from people who are either unemployed or had managed to find work through the services of at the career center. In some cases he offered advice or tried to highlight a state program that may help them along their career paths.
Malloy heard from people like Hector Santos, who has exhausted his unemployment benefits. But the Department of Labor helped Santos enroll in classes at the Capitol Region Education Council to be more marketable to employers. He’s also working on completing his GED.
Santos didn’t know what the future holds for him after he completes his classes but the governor suggested he continue to further his education.
“[Employers] understand you made a mistake, you didn’t get your high school diploma, you took the step necessary, they want to see you take the next step after that as well. It’s not that you have to complete a program, just showing people you’re working at it even slowly is a big incentive for them to take a chance and give you a starting job,” he said.
If Santos wasn’t sure what field he wanted to get into, Malloy recommended the precision manufacturing industry. Though Pratt & Whitney announced layoffs last week, Malloy said the company’s investment in their Middletown facility and involvement in engine contracts will have a ripple effect on the state’s precision manufacturing industry.
“Not just the work they’re going to do there but so much of that engine is made at small shops across the state. What we trying to do is upgrade of the precision manufacturing training programs at all the community colleges,” he said. “This is an area we actually think is going to grow in Connecticut.”
Malloy urged job seekers to familiarize themselves with some of the job programs the legislature passed last last fall like the STEP UP program, which subsidizes the wages of eligible new hires for the first months of their employment. He said people looking for jobs should bring the programs to the attention of prospective employers to provide extra incentives for them to hire.
Malloy also heard from Milgrid Guzman an Army veteran who’s seeking an associate’s degree in nursing at Capital Community College. The Labor Department has been helping Guzman ensure she takes advantage of all her veterans benefits. Nonetheless, the governor had some child-naming advice for Guzman. who is pregnant.
“Dannel is spelled D-A-N-N—we’re trying to encourage more people to use that name so more people pronounce it correctly,” he joked.
Debra Farrell told the governor she spent over 30 years working as a technician in a hospital operating room before being laid off. Farrell said the counselors at CTWorks helped her tremendously as she’s struggled emotionally with the frustration of feeling like she has been discriminated against due to her age.
Farrell thanked career development specialist Linda Ladas, who she said at times almost doubled as a psychiatrist calming her down when she was upset. Now Farrell works a seasonal job at a state park making less than she did on unemployment, but she said she’s happy to be working.
Malloy thanked the participants of the roundtable for helping him alert other people to the resources the state offers.
“You’re helping me do that,” he told them. “Maybe someone reads something out of this session or another session that helps them make the connection. You have to make it real for them.”
He said in his 17 months as governor he’s had a lot crises to handle, but said he plans to spend more time and energy on services moving forward.
“We’ve handled our crises now. Now it’s about delivery of services and concentrating on improving government performance,” he said.