Want to know how to take better photographs with your iPhone? Or how to “Know Thyself? Or how to use humor to reduce stress at work and at home?
Those are a few courses the state of Connecticut offers its employees through the state’s In-Service Training, provided through a partnership with the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities System.
Employees receive their usual pay to attend the courses through banks of training time outlined in collective bargaining agreements, but the training is subject to oversight and approval by management.
The courses range from learning computer programs to leadership training, financial literacy and communication skills – many of which may prove valuable learning for Connecticut state employees.
But other courses may leave taxpayers taking iPhone selfies with confused looks on their faces.
The course “How To Take Better Photos With Your iPhone,” gives participants “tips on photo composition, and how to gain control over your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings.” It was a full day course which took place on Tuesday, January 15 at Tunxis Community College.
“Feeling Great At Work,” teaches participants “to navigate through tough situations, such as disagreements with co-workers, uncertainty about position, and anxiety in approaching leadership.”
“Know Thyself” teaches participants to make their “strengths work to your advantage at work, at home, actually anywhere!”
There are also courses on emotional intelligence, using humor to reduce stress at work and home, and dealing with generational differences in the workforce.
The course fees range from $90 for a one-day course in how to take better iPhone pictures to $900 for multi-day technological courses.
Jeffrey Beckham, director of communications for the Department of Administrative Services, which circulates the course catalog, says the courses are provided through the Connecticut Education Academy.
The Connecticut Education Academy was started in 2014 with a $1.87 million information technology investment bond and is “designed to provide scalable, cost effective and measurable training to all employees of the State of Connecticut, according to the Academy’s website.
Payment for the courses are outlined in union contracts. “Reimbursement provided under the bargaining agreements would have to be determined pursuant to what is available in each particular agreement,” Beckham wrote in an email.
But the education and training opportunities outlined in the collective bargaining agreements are not blank checks for all courses.
For instance, according to the current contract between the state and employees in the Administrative and Residual bargaining unit, management “retains the right to determine training needs, programs, procedures, and to select employees for training,” although the union may also submit written recommendations.
Training which is directly related to the employee’s job or is required by the state is set during work hours and the employee is provided their regular pay by the state.
The A&R contract provides banks of money for professional development and attendance at professional conferences — $120,000 per year in 2018, rising to $125,000 in 2019 under the SEBAC agreement.
Employees in the Administrative Clerical bargaining unit have a bank of $30,000 from which to request reimbursement from the state for fees, travel expenses, meals and lodging if necessary.
According to the contract between the state and the Administrative Clerical unit, “Every effort shall be made by the State to allow participation in said workshops, seminars and conferences.”
The Office of Labor Relations, which is part of the Office of Policy and Management, administers employee rights under labor contracts.