NEBHE and the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) awarded grants to seven business-higher education partnerships in Connecticut as part of an initiative to rapidly increase the competitiveness of the state’s postsecondary institutions and meet growing business demand for tech skills.
In Connecticut, tech talent is critical for the state’s economic competitiveness and fostering the long-term growth of critical, technology-driven industries. In January 2022, Connecticut employers posted 10,129 unique jobs across 16 software development-related occupations, according to EmsiBurningGlass. This is a 93% increase in the number of tech-related jobs posted in the same month just one year earlier. Moreover, 88% of these most recent postings list a bachelor’s degree as a requirement.
The NEBHE and BHEF initiative, called the Tech Talent Accelerator, was funded by the Connecticut Tech Talent Fund (administered by the CT Department of Community and Economic Development) to close the skills gap by fostering targeted, high-performing partnerships between business and higher education in emerging, high-demand tech skills in areas critical to business growth in the state such as cybersecurity, virtual modeling, software development and digital analytics.
The initiative will lead the development of aligned skills and credential pathways through new or refreshed programming by postsecondary institutions, both public and independent, to meet current and emerging skills needs. Through the TTA, institutions will leverage partnerships with Connecticut-based employers and build on the momentum of the state’s recently established “regional sector partnerships,” which engage businesses with shared workforce needs as collaborators in the creation of postsecondary career pathways to in-demand tech roles.
The seven Tech Talent Accelerator grantees and their focus areas are:
- Quinnipiac University which will launch an advanced cybersecurity badging program tailored to industry partners in healthcare, finance and tech in central and southern Connecticut.
- The University of Bridgeport which will provide a new 12-week course in cybersecurity and information security tailored to businesses in southwest Connecticut’s finance and tech sectors.
- Mitchell College which will develop an accelerated pathway for cybersecurity skills tailored to the advanced manufacturing and defense sector.
- The University of Hartford which will launch an accelerated software development course for mobile apps tailored to major businesses in the Greater Hartford area championed by global tech firm Infosys.
- The University of New Haven which will develop an embedded game design and simulation development program leveraging skills augmented and virtual reality in collaboration with SphereGen, Arsome, and Pleiadian.
- The University of Saint Joseph which will develop a degree concentration in data analytics tailored to the regional needs of Greater Hartford employers championed by global tech firm CGI.
- Connecticut State Colleges & Universities which will launch a dedicated community of practice to collaborate with businesses through the Capital Area Tech Partnership and the Southwest Connecticut Tech Partnership. CSCU faculty from two and four-year institutions will work directly with each partnership to analyze jobs and skills demand data and develop a refreshed program with cross-cutting digital skills built off the success of the newly released Foundations in Digital Analytics microcredential backed by Connecticut businesses.
To meet the burgeoning demand for tech talent and keep Connecticut’s workforce competitive, the TTA seeks to engage the state’s higher education ecosystem, including the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities and independent colleges and universities. Each sector and institution have a critical role to play in preparing graduates for the workforce, and in reskilling and upskilling current workers.
“Bringing together educators and employers in such constructive ways will help ensure that Connecticut has the technological skills demanded in a changed, global, knowledge economy,” said NEBHE President and CEO Michael K. Thomas.
Connecticut’s public and private higher education institutions hailed the TTA initiative.
“CSCU is excited to participate in this effort and is very appreciative of the resources and opportunity to invest in the professional development of our faculty and staff at the colleges and universities. Partnering with NEBHE, BHEF and the regional sector partnerships will help CSCU institutions ensure their programs are aligned to business needs and our students have the academic, technical and personal skills needed in the IT workforce,” said CSCU President Terrence Chang.
“The independent colleges in Connecticut are eager to support the business community in the state by developing new programs that provide instruction in high tech, in-demand, skills. We are grateful for the partnership with the state, NEBHE, BHEF and CSCU in launching the TTA initiative,” said Jen Widness, president of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges.
“Access to a diverse and robust IT talent pool is key to our ability to respond to clients’ evolving digital needs,” said Scott Burghoff, senior vice president at CGI and chair of the business-higher education partnerships working group of the Capital Area Tech Partnership. “CGI is committed to increasing technical and business literacy in our community through business and higher education partnerships and the Tech Talent Accelerator. Through this program, Connecticut residents from all backgrounds have the opportunity to secure competitive, well-paying jobs through new, industry-aligned certificate and degree pathways.”
“The Business-Higher Education Forum is pleased to bring its extensive evidence-based experience in fostering high-performing business-higher education partnerships to Connecticut,” said Brian Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of the Business-Higher Education Forum. “Since 2020, we have worked with businesses and our partners in the state to help establish an ecosystem-based approach that will align the needs of business with the capacity of Connecticut’s extensive higher education network.”