NCC Foundation and Community Partners Pilot Innovative Program
to Retrain Workers for New Careers in Healthcare

Reporting & photo by Laura Roberts   

Norwalk and Housatonic Community Colleges are pivoting to meet the needs of Connecticut’s workforce and today’s learners in this unprecedented training and education environment. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a surplus of displaced workers, the colleges are launching a no-cost, fast-track healthcare training pilot program thanks to a partnership between the colleges’ Foundations, Bank of America and Social Venture Partners.
The goal of the innovative public-private partnership is to quickly retrain displaced or unemployed workers, particularly from the hospitality field, and arrange employment within hospitals for in-demand healthcare jobs. Upon training completion and passing licensure exams, students will immediately begin in new job positions. Intent to hire agreements are already in place with Stamford, Norwalk/Nuvance Health, Greenwich, Bridgeport and Yale New Haven Hospitals.
“It’s a lot to learn in a little time, but the teachers are great,” said Pamela Aquino, a student in NCC’s pilot program and a former owner of a housekeeping business based in Bridgeport. “Because of Covid, everything went downhill, a lot of clients just stopped. This program came at the right time…I’m going to start all over, and it’s going to be a whole new life.”
Fifteen students graduated from NCC’s Certified Nurse Aide program in August after completing their coursework and clinical rotations. “The program had an impressive 83% graduation rate, higher than previous non-accelerated classes,” said Dr. Kristina Testa-Buzzee, Chief Regional Workforce Development Officer for Connecticut Community Colleges Shoreline West Region.
To safeguard the investment in students, the responsive program provides all learners with wrap-around support, including weekly, personalized assistance from an achievement coach who provides career counseling. Emergency funds for sudden, unforeseen financial hardships that may interfere with program completion are also available.
“We have a long history of creating programs that are uniquely designed to meet the needs of our community by pairing our high-quality, affordable community college education with local employment opportunities,” said Carrie Bernier, Executive Director of the Norwalk Community College Foundation
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