Youth apprenticeship grant on the way for Connecticut teens


FAIRFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — World famous Bigelow Tea is looking for a few young apprentices.

Cindi Bigelow, CEO Bigelow Tea, says she’s proud “to be able to take young people starting at 16 and give them the skill sets so we can be fortunate for them to be able to work at a company like ours is really a program that’s very exciting and needed in the state.”

Bigelow’s Fairfield based manufacturer trains young workers who have opted out of college. A new $2 million Workplace Youth Grant will help add 300 jobs to the region.

For decades, Joe Carbone from nonprofit “The Work Place” has been helping youth get connected.

“It’s gonna deal with people who may not have a high school diploma and in the process of getting that license they will get that diploma,” said Carbone.

Congressman Jim Himes, (D) Connecticut explained, “We have people who want to be hired but don’t have hard and soft skills necessary to take on jobs that surround us, jobs that will put you into the American middle class, jobs that allow you to say ‘I benefited from the American dream.'”

Congressman Jim Himes helped secure the money from the Federal Department of Labor. Unemployment in Connecticut was estimated at 9.4% in May. While less than the national average, concern among teens is high.

Junior Achievement reports 57% of teens are worried how COVID-19 will affect their plans for the future.

The product of a newspaper apprenticeship, Governor Ned Lamont is focused on building a trained workforce.

“Think about taking this pause [quarantine] as an opportunity to turn things around,” said Lamont.

The Workplace will link 16 to 24-year-olds to companies.

“These programs are absolutely critical to providing us with employees who have a foundation that we can train in the most advanced electronics in the world,” Nicole Russo, from Seymour based, Microboard Processing an aerospace manufacturer said.

Those interested can apply online.

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