We’re facing a critical moment in Connecticut’s economy. Manufacturing and other sectors are slowly rebounding from the 2008 recession. At the same time, huge numbers of baby boomers are retiring. This means that we have a lot of job openings, and not enough of a trained workforce to fill them.

Connecticut has two choices: Either we actively work to train people and fill these jobs, or we sit back and watch as companies send those jobs out of state.

How can we keep jobs in Connecticut, while helping people to find well-paying, meaningful careers?

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Alex Johnson, President and CEO, Capital Workforce Partners: Thirty years ago an individual could get a good job with a high school diploma, a GED, a good work ethic and good work skills. What is changing is that just the desire to work it not good enough.

Cliff Thermer, Dean of School of Business Management, Goodwin University: I think one of the worse pieces of untapped potential is when people themselves think that they can’t do it. People don’t realize what they’re capable of doing because they’re afraid to try. Don’t think that you have to settle for where you are. We have 12,000 unfilled jobs today and it’s only going to get more. Connecticut needs you.

Mara, student, Asnuntuck Community College Advanced Manufacturing Training Program: It’s changed my life and it’s changing my kids’ life. I’m going to be able to be the person that I wanted to be. I’m going to be able to be the mom that I’ve always wanted to be. I can do it on my own, which is a good feeling.

Leonard Lloyd, Engineering Assistant, Belcan: Coming from where I came from, some of us never make it out of there. Prison is not the end of life. It can actually be the beginning of a new one. To anyone out there that may be going through something, don’t give up. If you put your mind to it, you can do anything you want to do. Just don’t give up. Please, don’t give up.

CJ Hauss, Executive Director, Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford: It can be jaw dropping when they hear the statistics. In our Greater Hartford Community, we have about 40% of adults who fall within the first lowest two levels of literacy, approximately equivalent to 6th grade level or below. When you hone into Hartford, that number rises to 70%.

Lyle Wray, Executive Director, Capitol Region Council of Governments: Ten years ago we didn’t have smart phones. Ten years ago no one ever heard of Uber or Lyft. But what we do know is that Pratt & Whitney has 30 years of jet engine orders across the river from here. And they don’t have the people. The average age is 55, and the people working and putting it together, they’re going to be gone.

Here’s a FULL TRANSCRIPT of Episode 3