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The Paper Ceiling

In April, with Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the Office of Workforce Strategy, and others, SVP co-sponsored the Workforce Development Summit where our Executive Director, Mark Argosh, had the privilege to speak and introduce keynote speaker, Byron Auguste, CEO & Co-founder of Opportunity@Work. Auguste’s speech highlighted a key challenge facing workforce development: The Paper Ceiling.

“Millions of workers with in-demand skills and experiences, overlooked for higher-wage jobs because they don’t have a bachelor’s degree. Companies stuck on a talent treadmill, desperate to build a reliable pipeline of skilled workers. Two allies separated by an insidious and invisible barrier. Now the enemy has a name. The paper ceiling.” (TearThePaperCeiling.org, 2022)

SVP’s co-sponsor, CBIA’s President and CEO Chris DiPentima shared that, “Connecticut has 100,000 job openings – 43% more than before the pandemic – with a labor pool that can only address 75% of those positions.”

This opportunity fuels the collaborative work taking place in CT to break down silos, create systems, and realize opportunities that eliminate the paper ceiling. These initiatives are a priority for the Office of Workforce Strategy (OWS) and the work that SVP supports.

In February, Accenture announced the launch of the first cohort that will matriculate through its apprenticeship program. In partnership with Capital Community College, people without a college degree can participate in a year-long, paid accelerated program and, upon completion, immediately start a job that pays a living wage of $55,000 (Massachusetts Institute of Technology Living Wage Calculator ). This program aims to expand access to training for in-demand coding and technology jobs and help create a pipeline of skilled workers. This and other similar initiatives are a priority for the OWS and are supported directly by SVP staff and volunteer partners.  

“We need to open our eyes to the skilled talent that is all around us yet remains unseen and underutilized,” said Argosh. “If we can unite around that vision, I believe we can move closer to realizing inclusive economic growth.”

In SVP’s role working alongside the OWS, we have seen first-hand the power of coming together to solve the challenges we face. As Auguste emphasized at the summit, “The challenges we face are solvable…. (but) we cannot solve them in silos and they’re not going to solve themselves by accident.”

(Photo: Mark Argosh, SVP Executive Director and Byron Auguste, Opportunity CEO & Co-Founder, speak at the Workforce Development Summit)