Governor Dannel P. Malloy today touted the job creation benefits of the state's recently expanded "Step Up for Vets" program and encouraged employers looking to expand their businesses to consider it as a way to grow while at the same time benefitting the men and women who have served our nation. The program works in cooperation with local companies to provide incentives for those who create new jobs and hire unemployed veterans to fill the positions.
"With Veteran's Day approaching on Monday, I think this is an appropriate time to thank those employers who have "stepped up' to take advantage of this successful program to give our returning veterans a job. I also urge any employer considering expanding to look into this initiative as a way to grow while at the same time benefitting the men and women who have served our nation," Governor Malloy said. "Veterans 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."
Administered by the Connecticut Department of Labor, the "Step Up for Vets" program, formally called the "Unemployed Armed Forces Member Subsidized Training and Employment Program," is part of the state's overall "Step Up" incentive that helps small businesses expand their workforce by providing wage and training subsidies after hiring an unemployed job seeker. To date, the "Step Up" program has provided jobs to more than 2,000 unemployed workers.
The veterans component specifically targets employers that hire unemployed former military personnel and is open to any company, regardless of size. Companies that hire individuals meeting program criteria receive a wage subsidy for the first six months to cover the training costs associated with hiring a new employee. For employees taking part in the Step Up for Vets program, the average starting hourly wage is over $16 and positions include accountants, graphic designers, machine operators, fiber optic technicians, quality control and job coaches.
"Not only is this a successful job creation program, but Step Up for Vets gives us a chance to provide employment opportunities to the brave men and women who served our country," Governor Malloy added. "More than 600 employers have now taken part in the wage subsidy and manufacturer training grant programs offered through Step Up -- creating new jobs, expanding their businesses, and keeping us on track for strengthening our economy."
Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said, "Our men and women in uniform represent the strength of our nation, and I can't think of a better way to show our support for them and their families than to help them find a good job right here at home. I commend all the employers who have participated in this program so far, and hope that many more will do so as a way to repay those who have so unselfishly served our state and our country."
"What better way to support our veterans than to assist them in in obtaining jobs that utilize the skills they have learned while serving their country," State Labor Commissioner Sharon M. Palmer said. "Step Up has proven to be a win-win situation for both employers and the people they hire, and companies are praising the program for its quick application process and the assistance they receive in finding the right employee."
In Norwalk, Anytime Appliance utilized the program to hire a veteran in July who is serving the company as a technician. Company owner Chuck Goulart notes that the "Step Up for Vets" initiative was the extra selling point he needed when making the decision to grow his business.
"For a small business owner and the type of industry I'm in, training can get expensive," Goulart said. "The wage subsidy allowed me the opportunity to train and get to know my new employee while taking the strain off my capital. It was great to have the resources to train a new employee."
Goulart, a veteran himself, noted that his new employee has the characteristics that often come with a veteran: character, punctuality and integrity. "I can trust him to do the right thing and take charge -- things that any business owner looks for."
Ensign Bickford of Simsbury, an aerospace and defense company that has hired four veterans under the program, noted that "Step Up for Vets" has been "exceptional" and has helped them to remain committed to hiring veterans as part of their overall recruitment strategy.
"With more than 8,000 veterans expected to return to Connecticut over the next several years, we must take advantage of the talented workforce coming back to or state," Governor Malloy noted. "With their tremendous leadership abilities and valuable skillsets learned while on the job, veterans bring a lot of talent and knowledge to the table -- talents that are an asset to any employer in this state."
Initially adopted in 2012, the veterans program was expanded earlier this year to include those of any age and war who have served at least 90 days and were honorably discharged from the military irrespective of whether the job they performed in the military was directly combat related. While the original "Step Up" program is open to small companies with less than 100 employees, the veterans component is available to employers of any size.
The state has invested $10 million for each of the three "Step Up" 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. Employers interested in taking part in the "Step Up for Vets" program, or the original "Step Up" incentives, can find their regional coordinator by visiting www.StepCT.com.
"Step Up" was created 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 subsidized wage and veteran programs provide 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.
Veterans in Connecticut seeking additional information on the services available to them and their families should visit veterans.ct.gov, which serves a one-stop tool on a variety of areas such as employment and job training, health care and education services.