Substitute Senate Bill No. 1375

Public Act No. 01-193

AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE CONNECTICUT EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDATIONS CONCERNING CONNECTICUT'S INFORMATION AND TECHNOLOGY WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT NEEDS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Not later than January 1, 2002, the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission, within the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, shall submit a report to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to workforce development, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, making specific recommendations for:

(1) Forming a state-wide digital compact encompassing industry, education, labor and government to integrate industry-driven information technology skills development in a practical manner across the entire educational and workforce systems;

(2) Funding and operating a Digital Strategic Fund for the purpose of providing discretionary funding to strengthen program efforts to improve connections between industry groups and specific educational and training institutions; and

(3) Addressing the digital divide in this state by directing moneys in a Digital Strategic Fund to specific groups and communities that are traditionally underrepresented in the information technology fueled economy.

Sec. 2. (NEW) Not later than January 1, 2002, the Department of Economic and Community Development, in consultation with the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, shall, within available appropriations, coordinate a state-wide campaign designed to increase the visibility of Connecticut's leading electronic business strengths and new or emerging information technology businesses.

Sec. 3. (NEW) (a) Within available appropriations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2002, and the next two successive fiscal years, the Department of Education, in cooperation with the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, shall establish a pilot program that is designed to encourage students in kindergarten to grade twelve, inclusive, to pursue careers in information technology.

(b) Not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, the Commissioner of Education, in cooperation with the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, shall establish written participation guidelines for the pilot program authorized under this section, and shall submit such guidelines to the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission.

(c) Not later than January 1, 2002, the Commissioner of Education shall submit a status report in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes on the establishment and on any operation of the pilot program authorized under this section to the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission, the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to appropriations and education and to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to workforce development.

Sec. 4. (NEW) (a) Within available appropriations for the fiscal years ending June 30, 2002, and June 30, 2003, the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, in consultation with the Department of Higher Education, shall establish a two-year pilot program that is designed to encourage public and private institutions of higher education in this state to provide matriculating college students of any discipline with the opportunity to demonstrate to prospective employers their technology proficiency and problem-solving skills within the technology environment by allowing such students to prepare for and take an assessment examination, such as the Tek.Xam, at such institutions.

(b) Not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, in consultation with the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Board of Trustees of The University of Connecticut, the Community-Technical Colleges and the Connecticut State University System and at least three independent institutions of higher education in this state, shall establish written participation guidelines for the pilot program authorized under this section.

(c) Not later than January 1, 2002, the Office of Workforce Competitiveness shall submit a status report in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes on the establishment and on any operation of the pilot program authorized under this section to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to appropriations and education and to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to workforce development.

Sec. 5. (NEW) (a) Within available appropriations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2002, the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, in consultation with the Department of Higher Education and the Board of Trustees of The University of Connecticut, the Community-Technical Colleges and the Connecticut State University System, shall establish a pilot program that is designed to assist noninformation technology workers who demonstrate an aptitude in information technology to earn an information technology credential or degree at one of the constituent units of the state system of higher education.

(b) Not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, in consultation with the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Board of Trustees of The University of Connecticut, the Community-Technical Colleges and the Connecticut State University System, shall establish written participation guidelines for the pilot program authorized under this section.

(c) Not later than January 1, 2002, the Office of Workforce Competitiveness shall submit a status report in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes on the establishment and on any operation of the pilot program authorized under this section to the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission, the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to appropriations and education and to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to workforce development.

Sec. 6. (NEW) (a) The Office of Workforce Competitiveness, the Labor Commissioner, the Commissioners of Economic and Community Development, Education and Social Services, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management and the Chancellor of the regional community-technical colleges, in consultation with the superintendent of the vocational-technical school system and one member of industry representing each of the economic clusters identified by the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development pursuant to section 32-4g of the general statutes shall (1) review, evaluate and, as necessary, recommend improvements for certification and degree programs offered by the vocational-technical school system and the community-technical college system to ensure that such programs meet the employment needs of business and industry, and (2) develop strategies to strengthen the linkage between skill standards for education and training and the employment needs of business and industry.

(b) Not later than January 1, 2002, and annually thereafter, the Commissioner of Education shall report, in accordance with section 11-4a of the general statutes, to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, commerce and labor and to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to workforce development on (1) the implementation of any recommended programs or strategies within the vocational-technical school system or the community-technical college system to strengthen the linkage between vocational-technical and community-technical college certification and degree programs and the employment needs of business and industry, and (2) any certification or degree programs offered by vocational-technical colleges or community-technical colleges that do not meet current industry standards.

Sec. 7. (NEW) (a) Within available appropriations, the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, in consultation with the Department of Higher Education and the Board of Trustees of The University of Connecticut, the Community-Technical Colleges and the Connecticut State University System, shall establish a pilot program that is designed to provide information technology related internship and cooperative work-study programs at the constituent units of the state system of higher education.

(b) Not later than ninety days after the effective date of this section, the Office of Workforce Competitiveness, in consultation with the Commissioner of Higher Education and the Board of Trustees of The University of Connecticut, the Community-Technical Colleges and the Connecticut State University System, shall establish written participation guidelines for the pilot program authorized under this section.

(c) Not later than January 1, 2002, the Office of Workforce Competitiveness shall submit a status report in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes on the establishment and on any operation of the pilot program authorized under this section to the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission, the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to appropriations and education and to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to workforce development.

Sec. 8. The Department of Education shall encourage the creation of additional interdistrict magnet school programs with special emphasis on information technology curriculum.

Sec. 9. This act shall take effect July 1, 2001.

Approved July 11, 2001