Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer, and state and local officials, today celebrated the passage of Public Act 13-63 -- An Act Concerning the Definition of New Employee in the Unemployed Armed Forces Member Subsidized Training and Employment Program, which expands Connecticut's Subsidized Training and Employment Program (Step Up) to include veterans who have served at least 90 days and were honorably discharged from the military.
The ceremonial bill signing was held at the Hartford CTWorks Career Center, a One Stop destination that provides employment and recruitment assistance, labor market information, and training grants or tax credits to employers.
"With more than 8,000 veterans expected to return to Connecticut, matching employers to a talented workforce will help our economy grow and ensure our business can compete in global markets," said Governor Malloy. "With their unique skillsets and tremendous leadership abilities, veterans bring a lot to the table -- talents that are an asset to business and industry. This is an important expansion to an already productive program, and I thank the General Assembly and Commissioner Palmer and her team at the Department of Labor for their commitment."
"For thousands of our military men and women here in Connecticut, deployment has meant many months away from their families," Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. "Programs like Step Up and the tax credit for hiring veterans are great ways for the state to help our troops regain employment, and I am confident that this expansion will mean even more jobs are created for them."
The bill, approved unanimously by the General Assembly, allows CTDOL to provide incentives under the Step Up Program to employers that hire unemployed veterans of any age or war irrespective of whether the job they performed in the military was directly combat related. Prior to this legislation, unemployed veterans could only qualify for the Unemployed Armed Forces Member Step Up Program if they were a combat veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan or military operations in Iraq.
The state has invested $10 million for each of the three programs -- the Subsidized Wage Program, the Small Manufacturer Training Program, and the Unemployed Armed Forces Member Subsidized Training Program -- for a total of $30 million.
"This legislation allows us to improve on an already successful program," said Commissioner Palmer. "Veterans of any age, regardless of the job they performed in the military, offer a multitude of transferable skills that many employers are seeking -- leadership, decision-making, a strong work ethic, and integrity. Our veterans have served their country well and it is only fitting that we should assist them whenever and however we are able."
To date, 1,675 employees with an average hourly wage $17.30 have been hired by 504 companies in Connecticut through Step Up. Jobs include engineers, plant operators, sales support staff, CAD designers, machining operators, carpenters, production coordinators, customer services representatives, and graphic designers.
Step Up was approved in 2011 as part of the bipartisan Jobs Bill developed by the Governor and the General Assembly and offers several hiring incentives to employers. The original subsidized wage program provides a wage subsidy of up to $12,000 over a six month period, while the small manufacturer training grant program provides up to $12,500 during the same timeframe. The programs are available to companies of 100 or fewer employees.
The armed forces component, added in 2012 and expanded by the 2013 legislation, focuses on assisting Connecticut employers hire and train unemployed veterans. Business and industry may qualify for these incentives regardless of their size.