NEW HAVEN — Services at Yale-New Haven HospitalÂ’s main location on York Street are supplemented by a number of facilities throughout the region. Among them are blood-drawing sites. All must be staffed. And thatÂ’s where ConnCAT comes in.
A new community program housed in a refurbished second-floor facility at 4 Science Park, ConnCAT Â— or the Connecticut Center for Arts & Technology Â— will devote some of its resources to training unemployed New Haven-area residents in marketable job skills. Initially the focus will be on medical coding and phlebotomy.
Â“These are two market-relevant job training [areas] indicated by Yale [YNHH] as a need for them immediately,Â” explains Erik Clemons, ConnCATÂ’s executive director and president. The program formally opened its doors last month with a festive gathering of community leaders who, according to reports of the event, met the cityÂ’s latest effort to aid job-seekers with wholehearted enthusiasm.
That wasnÂ’t always the case.
Four years ago, when the idea for what would become ConnCAT was first made public, many observers doubted the enterprise would be successful, and some even met it with resentment. Fanning the flames of doubt was a $150,000 Community Foundation for Greater New Haven-funded feasibility study. A popular sentiment was that the money would be better spent on needy programs and projects already in the funding channel.
Â“Coming in I knew there was a lot of skepticism, given the number of competing resources,Â” says Clemons, Â“and also given the scope of what we were trying to do.Â”
What helped quell much of the criticism were the programÂ’s fit with other city initiatives and the can-do attitude of area businessman Carlton Highsmith, says Clemons.
The Â“fitÂ” is with the idea of a jobs pipeline, a proposed collaboration of training, educational and business entities touted by both Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and the Board of Aldermen there a way to reduce local unemployment. ConnCAT fits that blueprint, says Clemons.
ambien no prescription was timely,Â” he says.
As for Highsmith, the founder and former CEO of Specialized Packaging Group, came out of retirement to spearhead the $5 million fundraising effort needed to get ConnCAT up and running.
In addition to employment training, the program also has an arts component geared towards at-risk New Haven-area youth. That is set to start this fall. The job training will begin within weeks, says Clemons, as soon as ConnCAT receives the necessary certification as a private occupational school by the stateÂ’s Department of Labor. This first class will consist of 40 adult trainees.
Â“WeÂ’re interviewing now,Â” says Clemons. Preliminary requirements for residents include New Haven County residence, possession of a Social Security number and high school diploma or GED, and passage of a criminal background check as well as a numeric and literacy exam.
For potential trainees who canÂ’t meet all the requirements, thereÂ’s help, at least in some areas. For example remedial reading instruction is available for those who donÂ’t pass the literacy exam (a tenth- to 11th-grade level is required).
Â“WeÂ’ve built a literacy classroom in the facility,Â” says Clemons. Â“WeÂ’ve partnered with Literacy Volunteers, and volunteers will tutor those who donÂ’t meet the threshold.Â”
Going the extra mile to aid out-of-work local residents is a principle handed to ConnCAT by its progenitor, the Pittsburgh-based National Center for Arts & Technology. ConnCAT is the fifth affiliate of that program. All affiliates fall under the auspices of the Manchester Bidwell Corp., created as a parent organization in 1999.
Founder Bill Strickland wanted CAT to be an oasis for PittsburghÂ’s underserved Â— and perpetually unemployed Â— population. In addition to New Haven, other CAT programs have been established in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Grand Rapids and click here Francisco. A sixth program will be launched in Buffalo, N.Y., next year, Clemons says.
Each program aims to reduce unemployment by training local residents to be market-relevant by filling positions needed in the local economy. Thus itÂ’s fitting that New HavenÂ’s initiative begins with the medical coding and blood-drawing needs of the cityÂ’s second-largest employer, YNHH. cheap valium also is looking to establish future partnerships with employers having similar needs, such as Quest Diagnostics and the American Red Cross, says Clemons. In addition, he says that ConnCAT will expand to include a culinary program within the next two years.
Students who participate in the arts component of ConnCAT also could eventually benefit from the job training program, Clemons adds.
Â“Our main goal [with the arts component] is for young people to go to college,Â” he says. Â“But for those who do not go to college, they can just walk across the hall and start job training.Â”
Â—Â Felicia Hunter