Kristi Allen photo
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (Kristi Allen photo)

A $6.7 million U.S. Department of Labor grant announced Monday by U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and Rep. Elizabeth Esty will help unemployed residents find work in the healthcare and information technology fields.

The grant will provide intensive training and professional development for 255 long-term unemployed state residents and advanced training for 55 workers already employed at health care facilities in north-central Connecticut. 

“The reality is that with this new healthcare law there are a lot of new jobs available,” Murphy said. “Healthcare information technology can’t be implemented without smart people to do it, so that’s what this training program will provide.”

Capital Workforce Partners was the lead grant applicant. The Board of Regents for Higher Education and a number of Hartford-area healthcare businesses were also included.

This is the second grant Connecticut has received under the Department of Labor’s Ready to Work program. The first one was a $5.5 million grant to the Workforce Alliance, a nonprofit program in New Haven.

Connecticut is one of 20 states to receive a grant through the program.

The program offers training for unemployed workers on three different tracks: rapid re-employment, accelerated training, and long-term training. The intensive two-week training course will provide unemployed residents with one-on-one career counseling, workshops, networking assistance and job development, as well as on-the-job training at their new place of employment. 

“We’ve been able to take hundreds of people off the rolls of the unemployed by convincing employers to hire them with a small carrot of funding that helps do the on-the-job training,” Murphy said. “If you give employers a little bit of money to help with training they’ll take the chance on a new employee.”

Sheila Kempf, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Bristol Hospital, said her hospital has been able to commit to hiring more nursing school graduates because of the on-the-job training grant.

“When someone graduates from nursing school it can take up to 20 weeks to really get oriented enough to leave them in the care of patients. That 20 weeks is very expensive for the hospital… This really allows us to supplement that process,” she said.

The grant program is targeted to residents in Hartford, New Britain, Bristol, Enfield, East Hartford, Manchester, and Vernon.

Murphy said the grant process was very competitive and it showed that Connecticut was becoming nationally renowned as a good investment for federal funds.

“I’ve seen a dramatic change in the willingness of Washington to fund Connecticut,” he said. “They see that we have a strategy for growth when it comes to our economy. I think we’re going to see more of this kind of federal investment in Connecticut.”