Hardly a week goes by during which a technology firm looking for workers laments the skills gap, that is, the difference between the skills that potential workers possess and what the company needs.
Thus, the news last week that Neumont University, a Utah-based, for-profit technical college, was looking to open a campus in Providence seemed like a good thing. Here was an institution dedicated to producing graduates who would be well on their way to bridging the gap.
Not so fast, say some in Rhode Island’s education establishment, particularly the association representing the state’s independent, degree-granting colleges and universities, contending that there is more than enough capacity already to train the work force of today.
That such an attitude is self-serving, there can be no doubt. That it flies in the face of the facts is clear.
The lament for qualified IT workers in the region is powerful and consistent. One technology-services company recently profiled in PBN has taken to conducting six months of full-time training with new employees because it cannot find workers with the advanced skills it needs. Others have been forced to recruit workers from out of state. And while it’s nice to attract new talent to Rhode Island, it would be nicer if current residents could find employment in the high-paying IT field.
The key issue now is whether the entrenched interests will be able to keep Neumont from the approvals it needs to take a crack at the Ocean State market. Because there is no doubt, Rhode Island needs more IT training taking place here. •
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