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US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona returns to Connecticut to discuss career opportunities for students

U.S. Sec. of Education Miguel Cardona visits Middlesex Community College
Ryan Caron King
Connecticut Public
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (center) speaks at a news conference flanked by U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (left) and Chris Murphy of Connecticut after touring Middlesex Community College in Middletown and announcing a new digital training partnership with Google. Cardona was Connecticut’s education commissioner before joining President Joe Biden’s Cabinet earlier this year.

When U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona stepped onto the Middlesex Community College campus, he said it was good to be back home. He took his first college class at Middlesex as a high school student. The experience gave him the confidence that he had what it took to be a first-generation college student.

Cardona joined state leaders Friday to talk about a job certification program aimed at helping to grow the state’s workforce and give students career opportunities in the tech industry.

“This is about meaningful employment,” Cardona said. “This is about Connecticut residents having the ability to be educated and provide for their families and buy a home and chase that American dream. That’s what this is about.”

The new Google career certification program is an online learning platform that trains people in skills that are in hot demand, like information technology, data analytics and project management. Connecticut is the first state in the nation to offer the program to community college and state university students.

This comes at a time when employers in information technology-related sectors have reported a skills gap in the workforce, which has led to the state’s laser focus on digital literacy. Gov. Ned Lamont said that now is the time to make sure students are prepared and that the state needs those skills.

“We are doing everything we can do to make sure that we’re able to compete in the 21st century,” Lamont said.

Stephanie Bauza, a junior at Wilcox Technical High School in Meriden — where Cardona also went to school — said the certificate program is guiding her toward her goals.

“Ever since I was very young, I’ve had a passion for tech and felt this trade would further my fundamental knowledge on IT support and can open many doors further into the workforce,” Bauza said.

Starting in the spring, all Connecticut community colleges and state universities will offer the program.

Catherine Shen is a Connecticut Public’s education reporter. The Los Angeles native comes to CT Public after a decade of print and digital reporting across the country.