Ayala: Step-up program bringing hope to the unemployed in Bridgeport

BRIDGEPORT, CT – Unemployed residents of Bridgeport and other towns around Connecticut are finding themselves with new careers and valuable skills thank to the state’s STEP-Up program. Senator Andres Ayala (D-Bridgeport), who championed passage of this program in 2011, visited James Ippolito & Co. in Bridgeport to meet with several employees who have had their careers jump-started by the STEP-Up program.
“STEP-UP” offers an opportunity to bring jobs to the unemployed, while also spreading the knowledge of important career skills to Connecticut’s workforce,” said Senator Ayala. “Too many people in Bridgeport have found themselves unemployed due to an inability to access apprenticeships or training needed to begin a new career. The STEP-Up program addresses this issue by reducing the risk for employers who would be interested in brining on new, unskilled employees.”
The Step-Up program provides employers two types of incentives to hire unemployed persons. The program offers a wage subsidy, which helps pay a new employee’s salary for the first six months of employment, and a grant which can be used to train a new employee in necessary skills. Gerald Cavallo, President of James Ippolito & Co, a manufacturer in Bridgeport, used this program to hire and train three unemployed Bridgeport residents who now have the skills needed to continue a career in precision manufacturing.
“We can’t pay someone $12-$15-$18/hr, and then pay to train them for a year or more before they actually tow their weight,” said Gerald Cavallo, President of James Ippolito & Co. “If the State pays half that wage during some part of the training period, that makes it possible. The employer can develop the skilled work force he needs to build the business. The employee acquires skills, and the foundation to build a career, instead of jumping between unskilled jobs and unemployment.”
James Ippolito & Co is a precision manufacturer of parts that are used by customers throughout the aerospace and defense industry. The company has been in Bridgeport for two decades, and has made an effort to hire employees from the local community. One new employee, hired with the help of the STEP-Up program, said that he sought out this company and loves the work he does there. STEP-Up created an opportunity to bring this new employee on and train him in a way that was cost-effective for the company. Without the program, he would not have been hired. STEP-Up allowed James Ippolito & Co to grow as a company, while also training unskilled and unemployed residents of Bridgeport in skills that will allow them to have a lifelong career in manufacturing.
Dan Doyle

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