Although the R.I. Department of Labor and Training is more commonly known for delivering unemployment benefits than placing people in jobs, expanded and continuing programming targeted to help people find work – along with two policy changes – are expected to help move those who are without a job off the unemployment rolls sooner, Director Charles J. Fogarty said.
“We want to be the ‘Re-employment Department.’ It’s not just a change of words; it’s a change of mindset,” Fogarty said.
A key program, Re-employment and Eligibility Assessment, is being expanded with a $701,363 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The funding will enable the DLT’s career center counselors to assist an additional 3,409 participants, or on average 16 per center, in Providence, West Warwick and Woonsocket, while adding services in the Wakefield section of South Kingstown through March of 2015.
The REA program is the only one for which Fogarty could provide statistics, but that data shows that Rhode Island REA participants re-enter the workforce faster and collect nearly $300 less per beneficiary in Unemployment Insurance benefits than jobless individuals who are not in the program.
As a result of the additional funding and expansion of services, Fogarty said he expects that percentage to increase as 11,500 new participants use REA services this year. Still, more participants does not necessarily mean more jobs.
“There’s no silver bullet,” Fogarty told Providence Business News, “no one thing that is going to be the solution to get people back working. But there are tools they need to see.”
Starting Sept. 1, every individual who files a claim for unemployment compensation will be required to post a resume on the DLT web portal, www.EmployRI.org, where people filing claims already have that option. At 7.9 percent for June, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate has dropped in recent months but is tied for highest in the nation.