HARTFORD, CT - Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced Tuesday that Connecticut’s Subsidized Training and Employment Program (Step Up), which has already helped put more than 800 unemployed individuals back to work, has now been expanded to help former military personnel find new employment.
“Helping returning military personnel find gainful employment is an obligation we must meet,” Governor Malloy said. “In the short time that it has been active, the state’s Step Up program has helped many small businesses grow and created job-training opportunities for our residents. Expanding it to include additional incentives for veterans was a natural progression, especially considering the tremendous skill-set these men and women have to offer employers.”
Step Up, which celebrated its first jobseeker placement this past February, helps small businesses with fewer than 100 employees expand their workforce by providing wage and training subsidies after hiring an unemployed job seeker.
The new armed forces component, known as the Unemployed Armed Forces Member Subsidized Training and Employment Program, is geared towards helping returning combat veterans gain employment 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 thousands of our military men and women here in Connecticut, deployment has meant many months away from their families and their jobs,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. “Programs like Step Up and the tax credit for hiring veterans are great ways for the state to repay our troops for their sacrifice by helping them regain employment, and I am confident that this expansion will mean even more jobs are created for them.”
“We obviously owe an enormous debt of gratitude to all of our veterans, and we should do everything we can in these tough economic times to help them secure a job,” Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr. (D-Brooklyn) said. “This expansion of Step Up helps us do that.”
“Our expansion of the Step Up program to include veterans was one of the significant achievements of the 2012 legislative session,” Senate Majority Leader Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven) said. “With high unemployment among veterans, it’s important to try and pave the way to a new job for all those who have sacrificed so much for their country.”
“Far too many military veterans are still looking for work despite having the skill, courage, and work ethic that Connecticut businesses are looking for,” Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) said. “Incentives like the Step Up program are a win-win for Connecticut’s businesses and qualified workers looking for a job. Expanding the program in this way will help us match returning combat veterans with employers who need their skills, experience and expertise.”
House Majority Leader Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) said, “The expansion of Step Up to returning combat veterans is an important part of both creating jobs and, more importantly, welcoming and honoring our veterans as they return home. I’m proud to support the expansion of this critical program.”
“The Step Up program has been very effective in producing jobs for residents in need,” House Minority Leader Larry Cafero (R-Norwalk) said. “With 700 new positions already created for unemployed residents, extending this program to veterans makes sense and is a fitting tribute to their service.”
Step Up was originally approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Malloy in October 2011 as a part of the state’s comprehensive Jobs Bill.
Administered by the Connecticut Department of Labor and the state’s five Workforce Investment Boards, the program features two types of hiring incentives: a scaled, six-month wage subsidy and a small manufacturing training grant. The wage subsidy – up to $20 per hour, for a maximum of $12,000 – is provided over a 180-day period. The training grant – up to $12,500 over a six-month period – is used for on-site training of the new employee.
Legislation to expand the program was approved in June of this year, adding the new armed forces component. Similar to the original wage subsidy program, potential new employees must be unemployed prior to hire, reside in a town with a high unemployment rate or a population over 80,000, and have an adjusted family income equal to or less than 250% of the federal poverty level.
“In the ten months since the Step Up program began, 844 unemployed jobseekers have been provided with jobs and 330 small business owners have received incentives to help them expand in a recovering economy,” Connecticut Department of Labor Commissioner Sharon Palmer said. “This newest part of the program is especially welcome since many veterans have valuable skills that will benefit companies of any size.”
Employers or jobseekers interested in learning more about the Step Up program can visit the Department of Labor’s website at www.ct.gov/dol and clicking on the large “Step Up” button on the main page. The site includes contact information for regional Step Up coordinators who can provide additional details, employer application forms, and assistance in locating potential employees eligible to take part in the program.