Time To “Skill Up”

Aliyya Swaby PhotoThe key to getting more people from New Haven into local jobs: increasing the number of adults proficient in math and literacy.

That’s what an outside consultant told the city, after surveying employment programs and skill training programs available to the many New Haveners who are regularly out of work.

John Padilla (pictured above at left), of New Paradigms Consulting, joined Mayor Toni Harp and city officials Thursday at City Hall to present the group’s findings, including recommendations for strategies to improve job opportunities and target goals over the next five years.

Hired last fall, the consulting firm spent five months compiling the report. Click here to read the full report of recommendations for local workforce growth.

As several large-scale construction projects near completion in the city, “my administration continues to work to make sure those [job] opportunities are dispersed throughout the city,” Mayor Harp said. City officials are “urging local employers to add to their workforces,” and training “hundreds of eager job seekers.”

Three main barriers exist that prevent people from being employed in New Haven, said Harp. First, many don’t have access to efficient public transportation, a physical barrier to getting to a job. Second, many have criminal records. And third, there’s a “gap between the education and the job skill of those looking for work,” with many lacking basic computer skills or even the ability “to complete the job applications.”

The city is addressing the first two barriers, by working with the state to re-route bus lines and by revamping the prison re-entry program Project Fresh Start, Harp said.

To address the third barrier, Padilla (pictured) said, the city should launch a “Skill-Up New Haven” campaign, with the goal of getting 600 adults each year to high-school-level literacy and math proficiency.

In the next five years, New Haven should aim for 5 percent more adults—2,500 people citywide—reading, writing and doing math at least at an 11th-grade level, he said. And the employment rate should increase among New Haven residents by 8 percent, or 4,200 people, by 2020.

“Today’s jobs require so much more” than a basic high school education, Harp said. She said the city is seeking “commitments from local employers” to help meet those numeric benchmarks.

The city should also create a “workforce intermediary” to work with organizations to improve the quality of their employment programs and better coordinate with employers, Padilla said.

Incoming local company Jordan’s Furniture is collaborating on a “pre-training program” with the city, to prepare local people for specific positions before the store opens at 40 Sargent Drive, Harp said.

Right now, a discrepancy exists between “high school or less jobs,” which normally don’t pay a living wage, and “high school or more jobs,” which lead to financial stability if held for long enough, Padilla said. Just three months of technical training at institutions like Gateway Community College can increase individuals’ earnings by several thousand dollars, he said.

Nothing in the report specifically targets black and Latino communities, whose members have consistently asked for more minority recruitment for local jobs. When asked, Harp said the city is targeting groups with large numbers of black and Latino people, including those who have just returned from prison or those with poor literacy skills.

“The fact that the employment rate is so low in those communities means those are the people we’re targeting,” she said.

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posted by: UBHolden on June 4, 2015  8:38pm

Very interesting report.  The numbers are a bit scary—do we really have that many people with such low reading skills?

posted by: jahad on June 4, 2015  10:22pm

John Padilla has a proven record of producing results…great partnership city hall!

posted by: Peter99 on June 5, 2015  5:56am

Absolutely amazing when you look at the amount of dollars we throw at the schools in this city. This is the result of the concept that if you allow society to lower education standards and encourage social promotion and graduation versus earned promotion and graduation the kids will feel better about themselves. They feel good until they find out that the skills and education required to hold a decent, well paying job are items they do not have.

We are fooling ourselves when we embrace the concept that lack of family structure, lack of social skills that were not taught in the home and lack of working in school do not matter. Kids having kids is another big problem that stems from previously mentioned problems. I am not saying that teen pregnancy did not happen in the past, but the rates have gone up dramatically in the last several years. We never had to have daycare in high school. This alone should ring very large and loud alarm bells. Society is now reaping what it sowed by being permissive. It may be modern to not marry, not have a male in the home, not have discipline in the home, and not stress the importance of education. That does not and will never make it right.

Do not blame guns, drugs, the cops, or bad teachers. We have always had them, but most of us had a value system that was taught in the home that is lacking now. A lot of us led a good life with only a high school level education in public school. We grew up in the inner city, but the big difference was we had a value system which was reinforced with tough love from our parents or grand parents when required.

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on June 5, 2015  11:03am

All of the data shows that teen pregnancy, abortion, and childbirth rates have actually declined over time. We didn’t “need” daycare centers in schools 40 years ago because pregnant girls weren’t allowed to continue in public schools or were sent away to “help a sick aunt” until they gave birth.

I think the findings of this report highlight the need to invest in adult education given that social promotion seems to be producing graduates with deficient skills

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on June 5, 2015  3:26pm

If there’s a “gap between the education and the job skill of those looking for work,” with many lacking basic computer skills or even the ability “to complete the job applications.” Then how do you explain the high unemployment rate of college graduates who can not find work.

For Recent Black College Graduates, a Tougher Road to Employment

But more than seven months after receiving his diploma from Oakwood University, a historically black religious school in Huntsville, Ala., Mr. Zonicle is still without a job in his field. Instead, he is working part-time for $7.60 an hour at a Barnes & Noble bookstore in the center of town.


People wake up.The current unemployment, is due to the ineffectiveness of members of both
political parties who you all voted for.I bet both both political party children are not having trouble finding a job.

posted by: Ahaa on June 6, 2015  8:25am

Sobering News for our town, the silver lining is we have a place to start the needed work, a sound plan and an administration committed to better results….John Padilla can be very helpful as the city moves forward, he has probably forgotten more about workforce than anyone in this town who claims competence, actually KNOWS…