Sen. Paul Cicarella, Sen. Kevin Kelly and Sen. John Kissel Credit: Katie Cerulle photo

HARTFORD — Senate Republicans made a last-minute push Wednesday to encourage a handful of committees to raise their job growth and workforce development proposals. 

The Republican agenda focuses on initiating multiple training programs at Connecticut high schools that include apprenticeship support, establishing health care workforce training, and growing state defense. 

Sen. Paul Cicarella, R- North Haven, said that many Connecticut students who obtain a bachelor’s degree enter a field that does not require it. He also said that receiving a diploma is not necessary to get a high paying job. 

“We want to allow students to realize that they don’t have to go to college and they don’t have to go through all of that debt,” he said. 

One of the proposals that’s already made it into legislation is a requirement to get school guidance counselors to talk about the trade schools, in addition to traditional two and four-year colleges with students. 

The legislation also includes a summer jobs program for high school students in at-risk communities. The purpose of the program would be to connect high school students to summer employment opportunities with local 14 businesses, hospitals, municipalities and other organizations

Sen. Gary Winfield. D-New Haven, said in a press avail on Tuesday in response to the legislation that he is in agreement with the two proposals included, but there is room for conversation.

Sen. Republican Leader Kevin Kelly, R- Stratford, said another proposal is a Healthcare Academy program. This program would allow high school students to complete certifications and course requirements at Connecticut hospitals while completing their high school diploma. This program would be open to any high school.

“We are facing a healthcare workforce shortage,” he said. “We want to train current students to fill these jobs.”

Other proposals that are part of the Republican agenda include an apprenticeship program and a tax credit to businesses that hire any registered apprentice who completes a program. Vocational program recruitment and developing a task force to study occupational licenses were also mentioned.

“We must encourage the defense industry to work with in-state suppliers whenever possible to grow Connecticut jobs,” he said.

Kelly concluded by including both the defense and insurance as two flagship industries in Connecticut that can supply jobs to residents.

“We need to grow the insurance industry,” he said. “We are the insurance capital of the world, and we’d like to stay that way.

Democrats don’t necessarily disagree with the goal of the Republican proposals. 

“Senate Democrats are open to any and all ideas to grow Connecticut’s economy and strengthen our state overall. I am looking forward to learning more details about these ideas,” Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney said.