U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona was in Connecticut Friday morning to visit a local community college and talk about new workforce development programs, new ways and ideas to grow and train a workforce in the state.
Following a tour of Middlesex Community College in Middletown, a panel discussion talked about the new programs available to high school and community college students throughout the state.
Gov. Ned Lamont and U.S. senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined Cardona and one of the main reasons they came was to discuss the new Google career certification program to train students for jobs in the IT industry.
The governor's office said Connecticut has become the first state in the nation to offer the full suite of Google Career Certificates across the state colleges and universities system.
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A news release from the governor’s office said that through the College of Technology, all Connecticut community colleges will offer credit courses that will include Google Career Certificate courses beginning in spring 2022.
Non-credit courses will also be offered regionally using the community colleges’ workforce development offices, with the roll out of the Google IT Support certificate in spring 2022. CSCU will partner with the Office of Workforce Strategy to help initially subsidize these programs for students and job seekers.
“Students in a very short amount of time can get certifications that prepare them for working in the it industry, whether that’s help desk or programming, or being able to serve a company or school that uses google products or any products to get them into the it field that way,” Steven Minkler, CEO of Middlesex Community College, said.
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“Our biggest competitive advantage as a state is the quality of our workforce and we have to make sure we do everything we can to make sure we are the best, competing not just with our fellow states, but competing around the world,” Lamont said.
One hundred fifty companies have committed to hiring people with the Google certificate.
Michael Rooke, President of Northwestern Connecticut Community College, said community colleges in Connecticut saw a 15% drop in enrollment since the start of the pandemic.
"When COVID hit, it's certainly impacted our students, disproportionately, I would say, more than many populations, because especially at the community college, we serve a significantly lower income minority population," said Rooke.