Senate to release legislation based on workforce action plan

The R.I. Senate on Tuesday unveiled an action plan, called “Rhode to Work,” intended to spur legislation that will tackle Rhode Island’s jobs crisis. More

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Senate to release legislation based on workforce action plan

PBN FILE PHOTO/RYAN T. CONATY
R.I. SENATE PRESIDENT M. TERESA PAIVA WEED is leading an effort by the legislative body to create a more robust system in the state to match employer and worker needs and education with the opportunities for employment in the modern economy.
Posted 1/21/14

PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Senate on Tuesday unveiled an action plan, called “Rhode to Work,” intended to spur legislation that will tackle Rhode Island’s jobs crisis.

Led by Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport, the legislators plan to promote job training opportunities to better prepare Rhode Island unemployed workers for jobs, and new workers for the demands of a modern economy.

“The ‘Rhode to Work’ action plan was embarked upon because, despite significant investments we have made in recent years to improve education and workforce training, businesses continue to tell us they have trouble finding workers who possess the necessary technical and social skills,” said Paiva Weed in a press release. “With unemployment at 9 percent, we are all frustrated and impatient to hear this. To address this unemployment rate … it is critical that we take decisive action now.”

A package of legislation will be introduced at 3 p.m. Tuesday and in the coming weeks based on the action plan to address the present and projected skills gap. The action plan describes two separate but related problems: an inability of unemployed Rhode Islanders to find jobs that fit their skills, and concerns that the state’s workforce is not prepared for the demands of tomorrow’s economy.

The legislation will address several concepts, including:

  • Empowering a single, seamless and cohesive workforce training system in Rhode Island, which would include the coordination by the Governor’s Workforce Board of the state’s career pathways and training systems, as well as increasing the number of industry-recognized credentials available in the state.

  • Maximizing the use of Rhode Island’s job development program by freeing up an additional $1.2 million for job training programs, requiring greater transparency and accountability of workforce development expenditures and maintaining enhanced funding for innovative training programs.

  • Reimagining career and technical education in Rhode Island by offering a $1 million incentive to begin a disruptive new career and technical education program that fits the needs of the modern workforce.

Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio, D-Providence, added, “The plans we are announcing today will help workers succeed, while helping companies that are located in Rhode Island to remain here and to grow their businesses and encouraging new companies to locate in the state. We are working to open new opportunities for learning, from pre-kindergarten through career.”

Emphasizing the connection between education and work, Senate Minority Leader Dennis L. Algiere, R-Charlestown, added, “The steps outlined in the ‘Rhode to Work’ action plan provide a practical way to better prepare the Rhode Island workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow. It is not another study, but a plan for action.”

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Daniel Da Ponte, D-East Providence, and Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil D. Steinberg were also expected at the news conference.

The full report is to be posted on the General Assembly website, www.rilin.state.ri.us, under the “Reports” tab.

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