The Raimondo administration has made a point of trying to upgrade the educational attainment of the state’s college-age students, the better to take part in the Information Age transformation of the U.S. economy and its workforce needs.
At the same time, through initiatives that include Real Jobs Rhode Island, the state is looking to create training programs that focus on the needs of employers that don’t require four-year college graduates to fill their job openings, but do need job candidates with some measure of job-specific training.
A recent Brookings Institution study of Census data shows that the Providence-Warwick-Fall River metropolitan area ranks in the middle of the pack for the percentage of college graduates for older millennials, aged 25-34, with the assumption being that those areas are more likely to show significant job growth in high-paying jobs, especially of the kind that Amazon.com Inc. is promising when it builds its second U.S. headquarters operation. (Rhode Island ranked No. 14 on the list, although it was fifth among the six New England states, ahead of only Maine, for percentage of 25-34-year-olds with college degrees.
While the state may not be in the running for the Amazon HQ2, it has shown the ability to attract other companies that are looking for the same kinds of high-skilled employees. At the same time, manufacturers are looking for new employees who have had effective job training to take over from retiring baby boomers. Is one of these options the end game that should be driving state education/workforce development policy, especially given its limited resources?