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Workforce development “is a team sport” CBIA


It was a point of attention for Futuro Health CEO Van Ton-Quinlivan as she addressed the Connecticut Workforce Summit Oct. 6 at the AquaTurf Club in Plantsville.

Workforce development “is a team sport, not an individual sport,” she told more than 200 leaders representing the public sector, community organizations and employers.

“A lot of employers think they have to go it alone,” she said. “We are all in this together and collaboration is key to finding solutions.”

Ton Quinlivan [pictured above] is a nationally recognized author and thought leader in the field of workforce development, who has worked in the private, public and non-profit sectors.

The summit was organized by CBIA, its subsidiaries ReadyCT and CONNSTEP, and Social Venture Partners Connecticut, and sponsored by General Dynamics Electric Boat.

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The 2022 CFIA and Marcum Connecticut Business Survey showed that 85% of Connecticut employers struggle to find and retain workers, with 39% citing a lack of qualified candidates as the biggest barrier to employment. growth.

In July, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 113,000 job openings in Connecticut, up 5,000 from the same period a year ago.

If every unemployed person in Connecticut were hired tomorrow, there would still be 35,200 vacancies.

However, if every unemployed worker in the state were hired tomorrow, there would still be 35,200 vacancies.

“What a dissonance between workers who need work and employers who need workers and they can’t find each other,” Ton-Quinlivan said.

So what can be done to resolve this crisis?


Ton-Quinlivan said it’s about finding strategies to get adults back into the workforce and meet education needs.

To do this, she explained how the work of three stakeholder groups – employers, educators and community organizations – must come together and work together.

She described a problem she calls “fire hose versus garden hose.” The fire hose is the number of students being prepared for the job market and the garden hose is job openings and employer needs.

The challenge is to make the fire hose and the garden hose work together and pair the right people with the right skills at the right time.

“The goal here is that in combination, you can create a reliable and diverse talent pool by coming together rather than having to do it alone,” she said.

“Employers have to have the main voice, because these are your jobs, right?

“What’s important for employers is to play together in a consortium rather than going it alone.”

Education Options

She said the goal of a consortium is to group jobs together and find similar roles with similar skills.

Ton-Quinlivan said broader collaboration “will make it easier for education and others to play.”

She noted that the pandemic has opened up more options for education, including greater flexibility to bundle and unbundle programs and create programs that maintain quality while improving preparedness.

“If you want diversity to be in the talent pool, then the beginning of the workforce development pipeline needs to be diverse.”

Van Ton Quinlivan of Futuro Health.

Community organizations are better positioned at the local level “than any business, or frankly even the education sector,” Ton-Quinlivan noted.

In her bestselling book WorkforceRX, she wrote, “If you want diversity to be in the talent pool, then the beginning of the workforce development pipeline needs to be diverse.

“That means diversity awareness needs to be done early. Public labor agencies and community organizations can do a better job of reaching deeper and wider into communities to publicize jobs than most companies care to do.

An ecosystem

Ton-Quinlivan emphasized that employers, the education sector and community organizations all need to operate in one ecosystem.

One way to do this, she said, is to think regionally.

“Perhaps it makes sense for regions to play together,” she said, “rather than single institutions and partners working together.

“Then K-12 establishments correspond to the common regional economy because, as you know, most people stay in the regional economy.”

Ton-Quinlivan said it was essential to tailor pathway programs to a region’s economy by “identifying the sectors, industry sectors, that are important.”

Collaboration between employers, educators and community organizations helps provide exposure to a profession and pathways to get there.

“Education is not a one-time thing,” Ton-Quinlivan said. “It’s not early, but it has to be a set of continuous upgrades throughout your life.”

Bring the adults back

A quarter of CBIA/Marcum survey respondents called for more skilled workforce training, while 23% supported additional education and trade school opportunities.

So how can educational institutions help adults re-enter the labor market?

Ton-Quinlivan said it’s useful to look at how innovation leaders change workflows and how those workflows affect skills.

“Adults aren’t in the mood for degrees. But they are interested in developing their skills.

Ton Quinlivan

“Adults aren’t in the mood for degrees,” she said. “But they are interested in developing their skills.”

She said the key is to create on and off ramps for adults so they are ready to get back into education.

“If they’re not ready to graduate, how do you get them into skill sets that are right for you?” she asked.

Next Generation Workforce

In terms of helping to develop the next generation of workers, Ton-Quinlivan said the introduction of career exploration in colleges is important so that “students are exposed to the range of a vast working world here in Connecticut”.

For high school and college students, it’s all about workplace experience.

“It’s a broken area in the workforce pipeline,” she said.

Ton-Quinlivan called workplace experience options a “broken area in the workforce pipeline.”

“Employers, only you can provide work experience. So, if you’re going to do one thing, consider partnering with your colleges to provide work experience.

“If you have a talent pool, collaborate to create a pool to be competitive when hiring.

“And when you have that person on your premises who learns about your business as an intern, that’s when you have a competitive advantage in attracting that dreamer or that dream candidate.”