Connecticut Department of Labor, Office of Workforce Competitiveness (OWC)
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Business CT 2017 - Employer Conference

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The Office of Workforce Competitiveness (OWC) assists the Labor Commissioner as one of the Governor’s workforce development policy advisors with the goal of ensuring Connecticut has sufficient talent to support its economic growth. OWC works to coordinate and align resources, employment and training programs, and curricula to meet projected industry and job growth needs. OWC leads Connecticut’s efforts to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) on behalf of the Governor.

OWC provides staff, leadership, support and technical assistance to the membership of the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission (CETC), the State Workforce Board. In addition to its policy role, OWC oversees several special initiatives on behalf of the Governor, Legislature and the Labor Commissioner, such as New Haven Works, Spanish American Merchants Association, Jobs for America’s Graduates, the Jobs Funnel Initiative, two federally-funded Disability Employment Initiatives, and a USDOL Technology Grant.

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CT Employment and Training Commission

OWC Initiatives


OWC provides administrative support, technical assistance and monitoring to the following programs:

Subsidized Employment and Training Program (STEP UP)

Provides administrative funding to the five Workforce Development Boards to operate the STEP UP Program that provides wage and training subsidies to employers that hire unemployed jobseekers, and assists businesses hire employees and expand their workforce.

Skills21 - EdAdvance

Skills21 delivers an integrated set of supports for Connecticut students in 30 schools. These supports included curriculum development for business, STEM and digital media courses, coaching and professional development for teachers, and support for the Skills21 Expo Fest, an annual highlight for the Skills21 and affiliated organizations, showcasing the hard work and innovation by middle and high school students from across the state of Connecticut.  

College Connections – Asnuntuck Community College

Through College Connections, students from area high schools study and participate in welding and precision machining technologies and related subject matter, yielding both high school and college credit and an invaluable introduction to the exciting world of manufacturing.

Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA)

SAMA provides technical assistance and training to multicultural businesses and entrepreneurs and serves as a resource for merchants. Business planning services, assistance with small business loans, development of marketing strategies, and the provision of merchant business training and e-commerce development are some of the services provided by SAMA.

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG)

OWC administers the CT Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program on behalf of the Governor and five contributing State agencies (DOL, DSS, DECD, CSSD, and DCF).

JAG is a state-based national program dedicated to preventing youth who are most at-risk from dropping out of school. The program focuses on personal engagement and accountability, education and training needed for in-demand careers, and employment. JAG also includes mentoring, project-based learning, community engagement and 12 months of post-graduation follow-up.   

CONNECTICORPS- Child and Family Agency of Southeastern CT, Inc.

Connecticorps is designed to reduce academic debt and provide meaningful employment to young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 in nonprofit, state, and municipal settings. Upon successful completion of a two semester community and service learning experience, Serve Here CT, through Three Rivers Community College, will reduce the students’ debt by $10,000. Participating employers that hire and retain Connecticorps students for a period of one year will receive a $10,000 monetary incentive per student hired.


Connecticut Cradle to Career Initiatives operates in four urban communities Stamford, Norwalk, Bridgeport and Waterbury. They strive to improve outcomes in areas including but not limited to: Infant health, kindergarten readiness, third grade reading, middle grade reading and math, high school completion, reduce exposure to violence, post-secondary enrollment and completion and youth employment.  


The Jobs Funnel project places unemployed and underemployed individuals in a variety of construction and non-construction jobs in both union and non-union settings and apprenticeship training programs. Services provided include outreach and recruitment, assessment, case management, pre-employment preparation (consisting of math, remediation, life skills workshops, customized training, and/or pre-apprenticeship training), job placement, and retention support services. The Jobs funnels are located in Hartford and Waterbury.


New Haven Works, a non-profit organization provides employers with a trained and qualified workforce by connecting New Haven residents to jobs. New Haven Works provides outreach/recruitment, assessment, case management, pre-employment, job placement; and retention support services to New Haven residents, ensures that local employers have access to trained and qualified candidates, and serves as a resource to the workforce development community.          


EMERGE Connecticut is a transitional workforce development program with the goal of providing recently released ex-offenders in the Greater New Haven area with the opportunity to end the pattern of recidivism by providing employability intervention services, literacy workshops, supportive services advocacy and assist with basic needs.




OWC was awarded $3,058,706 to implement strategic approaches for enhanced employment services for adults with disabilities in the public workforce investment system. Disability resource coordinators and case managers with expertise in disability and workforce issues were hired to provide a full range of employment assistance, coordinate services, and leverage funding to meet the needs of jobseekers with disabilities using American Job Center services.



OWC was awarded $2,500,000 to lead a partnership of four local Workforce Development Boards and other partners to improve employment outcomes for in-school and out-of-school youth with disabilities by supporting job-driven approaches in career pathway systems and other innovative programs including paid internships and work experiences. 

Reemployment & Systems Integration Dislocated Worker Grant


This $924,000 grant supports high quality service delivery and employment outcomes for dislocated workers, including those who are also unemployment insurance claimants or long-term unemployed, through investment in integrated technology solutions that support connectivity across programs and services provided to dislocated workers.


OWC provided research and development, application preparation and submittal for the following grants awarded to the CT Department of Labor:

American Apprenticeship Initiative - $5,000,000

CT AAI will enroll and serve 1000 apprentices and pre-apprentices statewide in the high demand industries of Advanced Manufacturing, Healthcare and Business Services.

ApprenticeshipUSA State Accelerator Grant - $200,000

This grant will help integrate the apprenticeship model into Connecticut’s education and workforce system by working with industry and related partners to bring apprenticeship to new industries and populations.

ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion Grant Summaries – $1,550,000

This funding is targeted to aerospace manufacturing, energy and the building trades to support registered apprenticeship opportunities. Key Partners include Pratt and Whitney, Sikorsky Helicopter Mechanic School, the Connecticut Building Trades Council, and the United Labor Agency. Connecticut will also engage the Water Supply, Wastewater Treatment, Water Pollution Control Sector and wastewater environment experts so serve as catalysts for generating sector employers for Registered Apprenticeship sponsorship.


Connecticut Learns & Works Conference

An annual conference for educators, counselors, employment and training specialists and business persons interested in career and workforce development. This conference provides the opportunity to better inform educators, counselors and job developers how changes in the workplace will affect jobs and careers in the

New England Fatherhood Conference

An annual conference that brings together federal, state and local professionals, paraprofessionals and parents from the six New England states to share information and knowledge about the significant role fathers play in raising healthy, happy children.

Conference on Serving Adults with Disabilities

25th Annual Conference provides an opportunity for participants to meet with a wide representation of experts and professionals to discuss current strategies and gain knowledge on the broad spectrum of disabilities. The goal of the conference is to share knowledge and strategies and provide answers, directions, and support to adult workforce development professionals, adult education teachers, employers, counselors, and families, friends and colleagues of individuals with disabilities.


This bi-annual conference provides information about best practices in the emerging field of asset development. State and local government, non-profit advocates, service providers and workforce development professionals interested in improving long-term outcomes for people, including the 39% of Connecticut residents who are “asset poor,” participate in a day of knowledge sharing, candid discussions, and peer learning.


This bi-annual conference provides participants representing state and local government, non-profits and service providers, and workforce development practitioners with the opportunity to learn about the latest in assistive technology and its application as it relates to employment, education, and independent living for individuals with disabilities.

building a great life: Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the IDEA and the 25th Anniversary of the ADA

This two-day conference celebrated the passage of two remarkable anniversaries for individuals with disabilities by providing an opportunity for service providers, workforce development professionals, individuals with disabilities, and families to learn about programs, resources, assistive technology, advocacy, as well as upcoming changes in workforce development impacting youth and adults with disabilities in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.



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