The danger with workforce-development efforts focusing too much on industries that require extensive education and training is that many of those who have been hurt most by the Great Recession are in danger of being left behind as the state slowly climbs its way back.
For that reason, two recent awards by the Governor’s Workforce Board were a sign that some of our most vulnerable are not being forgotten. The awards, worth a total of $313,648, are designed to supply training to 120 homeless, unemployed or underemployed Rhode Islanders in culinary arts and supporting positions, part of an industry that is expected to grow employment significantly from 2010 to 2020. The track record of the two programs receiving the money seems to be good, with about two-thirds of graduates of previous programs finding jobs upon completion, although it would be better if the state awards came with an incentive to improve job placement.
Of course, 120 people will not solve Rhode Island’s unemployment problem. But it will make a difference among a segment of the population that is most in need of a hand up. •