FAIRFIELD - State Senator Tony Hwang (R-28) joined a group of young men and women for their orientation in the Kennedy Center’s “Level-Up” Program, where young adults are given hands-on work experience with oversight from their job coaches who will be teaching them important career skills over a two week stint at their assigned job sites. The Level Up program is a partnership with CT Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) and various community groups to create a school-to-work pipeline that helps students find their place in the workforce.
Hwang, a long time supporter and advocate for the Kennedy Center, encouraged the students to be excited about the opportunity provided to them to learn real-world skills that students are rarely taught in the classroom. “Vocational training is hugely important for young people in Connecticut, so that they can leave school with the confidence and skills they need to succeed.”
Unfortunately, the program length has been cut significantly in recent years and months. Level Up used to be a twelve-week fellowship that gave students much more significant work experience. This year, the program has been shortened to 45 total hours over two weeks.
John Jones, the Career Services Coordinator at the Kennedy Center, remarked,“We’ve had enough experience and collected enough data with Level-Up to know that it is a program that can make a difference in the lives of these young people, our hope is that the politicians in Hartford will take notice and fund the program as it was intended and thank Senator Hwang for leadership and support toward restoring funds for this valuable and important program. I also want to thank Senator Hwang for his consistent and encouraging support of The Kennedy Center and families impacted by intellectual disabilities.
“Connecticut’s inability to prioritize its’ budgetary spending have decimated many of these types of social-vocational programs. Educating our workforce, and especially our younger citizens looking for their first job, needs to be a priority for all elected officials,” said Hwang. “Every legislative official and program administrators should visit and personally observe the confidence and enthusiasm of “Level Up” participants, then they will fully realize the importance of this program.”