HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut workforce has been struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. State unemployment hovers around 6%, which is higher than the national average.

The Lamont administration announced a major expansion of CareerConneCT, a program connecting people looking for work to jobs. Doors have been opened for Jihane Berdji during her time of despair.

“My husband lost his job,” Berdji said through tears. “During the pandemic, we were living on unemployment that we received. But, now I feel like it is a big relief for me and my family.”

The relief came through the state’s CareerConneCT program, which she heard about it on social media.

“I applied during the pandemic time, when everyone was struggling, especially me,” Berdji said. “I’m getting emotional, I’m sorry.”

After months of free training, she was just hired at Yale New Haven Hospital as a pharmacy technician. Marna Borgstrom, the chief executive officer of Yale-New Haven Health, is a sponsor.

“Sixty-nine students have graduated. Ninety-five percent of those students and the people who are now working with us come from New Haven County,” Borgstrom said.

Dr. Kelli-Marie Vallieres, Connecticut’s chief workforce officer, said CareerConneCT was a huge success during the pandemic. Now, they are expanding it.

“We are putting $62 million into job training programs, and we are expecting to train approximately 8,000 people,” Vallieres said.

Seventy million dollars in Federal American Rescue Act funding will be spread across several sectors from manufacturing to healthcare and green energy.

“We want somebody you can trust on the other side of the counter that you can look to and believe in,” Lamont said.

Berdji said the program is the way to stop the generational struggle families suffer when they don’t have skills to get good-paying jobs.

“I want to thank everybody that saved not only me but also my family,” she said.

The application process is open. If you are interested, click here.