Yes, there is a skills gap in today’s labor market. That is, there are many open positions that are not filled because the candidates do not possess the necessary skills for the jobs.
A not-unrelated fact is that until this year, the state had undergone a decade long shrinking of its labor force, that is the number of Rhode Islanders either employed or looking for work. It is also not a coincidence that the Ocean State for many of those years had among the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
Finally, beginning in January, the labor force has shown growth, all while the unemployment rate is falling. This is good news, although there is a long way to go before anyone can declare victory over the economic body blows of the last 10 years.
These facts leave us with two missions – upgrade the skills that Rhode Island workers possess, but just as importantly, grow the number of people who are here and looking for work. Because you can’t upgrade the skills of a workforce that isn’t here, and you can’t grow an economy without a workforce.