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The program equips people with skills for in-demand jobs within three to six months – with no degree or experience required – at a time when employers in information technology-related sectors have reported a skills gap in the U.S. workforce.
Schools in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system will also work with interested high schools to provide access to cloud computing curricula.
By its nature, “it’s difficult to define what this place will be,” said GE Appliances President and CEO Kevin Nolan, as it brings together education, innovation and inspiration to create “something new, something exciting.”
“By eliminating the debt those students owe to institutions, we are removing a hurdle that prevents far too many people from continuing their educational journeys,” CSCU President Terrence Cheng said.
"Our goal is not to borrow a single nickel" to finance the approximately $224 million project, Norwalk Hospital President Peter Cordeau says.
UConn issued a similar mandate earlier this month.
"Enrollment has been declining for the past 10-plus years, so we can’t say everything is because of the pandemic," Cheng told the Business Journal. "It’s much larger than that.”
“We don’t have the luxury of doing one thing at a time,” Lamont declared. “There’s too much at stake.”
“Workforce development begins in kindergarten," says Kelli Vallieres, executive director of the newly-formed Connecticut Workforce Development Unit. "By talking with them at such a young age about what they’re interested in, you can find the fire that sparks their interest."
Last week, the unaffiliated University of Connecticut asked the state for a $104.4 million bailout.
While the system’s Board of Regents has predicted a 10% drop in enrollment at its four universities, “The preliminary numbers we’re seeing have been better than that,” Mark Ojakian said. “We’re hopeful that no institution hits that 10% mark.”
Additional state funding would be needed to extend PACT into the spring semester.
The moves are the latest in the organization’s “Students First” plan to merge its community colleges into one accredited institution by 2023. The result, to be called Connecticut State Community College, still needs to be accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.