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Jobs Funnel To Expand With Federal Funds, But History Is Spotty

By MARA LEE

April 10, 2012

Connecticut will use $5.8 million from a federal green jobs grant to expand the Jobs Funnel program outside of Hartford, Connecticut Department of Labor Commissioner Glenn Marshall said Tuesday.

The Jobs Funnel, begun as a pilot program in 1999, was designed to train unemployed Hartford residents for jobs building Front Street and the Connecticut Convention Center, has served more than 3,000 people over the last 13 years.

But an independent evaluation of the program's effectiveness from 2002 through mid- 2008 almost a year after the construction sector began its massive decline found that only 32 percent of graduates were placed into a job.

At the recent peak in October 2007, there were about 68,000 people in the state working in construction; now there are about 52,000.

The Jobs Funnel is expanding to help train workers needed for the growing construction industry, especially for those involving green technology and construction skills," the department said in a written statement.

The independent assessment of the Jobs Funnel, requested by the Department of Labor, and completed in 2009 by Redstone Research, found that the average wage was $13 an hour for the newly employed graduates, but that those who didn't end up in construction jobs ended up working only sporadically. As a result, their average year-round wages were about $13,000.

One-third of those who were placed in jobs did not end up in construction. For one year, the jobs funnel aimed to put people in service jobs at the newly opened Convention Center, but most of the other non-construction jobs resulted because trainees realized they were not suited for construction work.

One of the problems graduates faced in holding jobs was that 43 percent of the trainees did not own cars, and 36 percent didn't have valid driver's licenses.

"Business managers for the various unions cite lack of transportation as one of the most common reasons why Funnel participants have problems with maintaining employment," the report said. Quoting a job site manager, it continued: "'Everyone says they got a ride my mother's car, my girlfriend, a friend but when you call them for a job, then the car is in the shop, they broke up with their girlfriend, their mom needs it, or something. You don't think much of it the first time. But when you call two times, three times, and it's the same thing, well, you start to think, and then when you come to his name you wonder if you should just skip over it. If these guys can't get to work, then they can't work. If they can't work, they can't get hours, and without hours then they can't move on to the next stage.'"

Another difficulty in landing the first job was that 56 percent of trainees had felony convictions and 15 percent said they had problems with substance abuse.

The cost of the program is about $3,000 per trainee.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
     
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