Sen. Tony Hwang, the Ranking Senator on the Transportation Committee, on Aug. 7 met with Connecticut Construction Industries Association (CCIA) President Don Shubert and Tilcon Connecticut President Carolina Cavalcante to discuss the industry’s challenges, innovations in transportation infrastructure improvements and workforce recruitment efforts. 

“I wanted to hear firsthand from CCIA, which represents various sectors of the construction industry, and Tilcon, a business that has played a key role in building transportation infrastructure around the region,” Sen. Hwang said. “What I heard from these experts is this: The construction industry is not only hiring, but also anxiously looking to recruit and train the next generation of Connecticut workers. Tilcon, a division of CRH, for example, does business in my senate district in Newtown and throughout Connecticut. Tilcon CRH employs 600 workers statewide and is making connections between education and the workforce at technical high schools and union apprenticeship programs throughout Connecticut. I want to help them get the word out about their recruitment goals as well as the current impediments to their growth, both of which will impact job opportunities and business growth in Connecticut.”

Among the challenges: Federal infrastructure funding for Connecticut is not being immediately put toward road and bridge improvement projects. Part of the reason is a major shortage of engineers.

“Infrastructure investments are the highest return on investment for any government spending,” Shubert told Sen. Hwang, “So why are we not taking full advantage of this opportunity?”

“That’s a missed opportunity and it is frustrating for all of us,” Sen. Hwang said. “I have nothing but praise and admiration for the men and women who work in this industry and the difficult work they do, but we need to make that work available. These construction jobs make our economic engine hum. We must create momentum and keep that momentum going. At the same time, we must continue to expand the skilled-labor employment pipeline from technical high schools to this vital industry.”

Sen. Hwang said he plans to meet with the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s commissioner and municipal leaders to discuss action steps and progress timelines in order to get projects up and running and “shovel ready”.

Sen. Hwang learned about Tilcon’s internship program, which provides students the opportunity to attain a solid understanding about the company in a short timeframe. The Tilcon Connecticut internship is a robust experiential learning program and generally begins in May and runs through mid-August.

“Many of our former interns are now enjoying successful careers working for the Tilcon Connecticut family,” Cavalcante said.

Sen. Hwang also learned how companies like Tilcon put a priority on environmental protection. 

“Preserving our precious natural resources, like watershed land, is top of mind for Tilcon,” Sen. Hwang said. “So, as they build and strengthen our infrastructure, they are also prioritizing environmental stewardship and clean water.”

Sen. Hwang said he would take what he heard and share it with lawmakers, the Governor’s Workforce Council, and the Lamont administration.

“CCIA and Tilcon Connecticut need to be heard at our State Capitol,” Sen. Hwang said. “Their feedback can help us accelerate job growth and our talent pipeline while improving our roads and bridges and protecting our environment. We need to listen – and we must act.”

By Alex

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