The skills gap is an often-told Rhode Island story – jobs open and a shortage of trained workers to fill them, most glaringly in technology.
There are signs, however, that a new and more promising chapter is being written in the Ocean State with concentrated efforts by businesses, the Governor’s Workforce Board, educators and tech organizations to narrow the chasm between available jobs and trained workers.
It’s a challenging task, considering the breakneck pace of technology and the time required for training. Even experienced IT professionals can fall into the chasm, like lifelong Rhode Island resident Daniel Chaput of Tiverton, an IT instructor for 15 years who suddenly found himself unemployed and under-skilled in his own profession.
“I was an IT instructor, so I thought I was at the top of the food chain, but once I started looking for a job, I found out I wasn’t,” Chaput said from a training session at the Bryant University Executive Development Center, where he was finishing the second week of a 14-week program called IT on Demand, which began Sept. 16.
Chaput is one of 16 unemployed IT professionals chosen for the program launched with an Innovative Partnership Grant of $218,000 from the Governor’s Workforce Board and developed by the Tech Collective.
Chaput worked at the Braintree, Mass., campus of American Career Institute until January, when the school abruptly shut down its five locations in the Bay State.
He has been forced to face the latest realities of the tech world during his job search.
“I went to staffing agencies and everywhere I went they asked me, ‘Do you have virtualization?’ The tech world is changing to virtualization,” said Chaput, who doesn’t have that particular training in consolidating hardware and running multiple operating systems and applications on a single computer.