Raimondo administration announces new effort to help job seekers

GOV. GINA M. Raimondo says the state has launched a new virtual career center and job-matching program as part of the Back to Work RI initiative. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO
GOV. GINA M. Raimondo's administration has less than two months to disperse $900 million in pandemic-related federal aid. / PBN FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – Gov. Gina M. Raimondo on Wednesday unveiled a virtual career center and job-matching program that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help job seekers. The new features are part of Back to Work RI, a $45 million workforce initiative launched in July and funded by federal stimulus money.

The state has partnered with Google Cloud and the nonprofit Research Improving People’s Lives to create the virtual career center and job-matching program, Raimondo said. Job openings and more than a dozen free job-training programs have already been posted on the program’s website, BacktoworkRI.com.

According to an announcement by the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, the partnership among government, technology leaders and research scientists will use artificial intelligence and machine learning to help connect the state’s workforce to new career pathways.

DLT said Rhode Island will be the first state to use AI and machine learning to assist job seekers.

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“[Rhode Island] is truly innovative and forward-looking in its approach to citizen services, and we are honored to help provide technology that powers such a tremendous effort,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud.

The partnership will cost $3.4 million out of the $45 million of CARES Act funds that was set aside for the Back to Work RI program, according to DLT spokeswoman Margaux Fontaine.

In the coming weeks, the virtual career center will bring all of the state-led job support programs together under one online platform, said Raimondo. The interface will be powered by a range of Google Cloud technologies, in partnership with Maven Wave, a Chicago-based digital-technology company that built the application’s interface. according to DLT.

Under the new online platform, job seekers will be able to fill out information about their interests and skills so that they can be matched with “new and successful career paths and proven, effective reskilling opportunities,” the DLT said.

That process will be assisted by what DLT said was first-of-its-kind digital tool – a machine-learning algorithm and an AI-powered “chat bot,” a software application that will communicate with job seekers.

“We have so many Rhode Islanders who are hard workers and desperate for a job,” Raimondo said. “The hardest part is matching people up.” 

Alexa Gagosz is a PBN staff writer. Contact her at Gagosz@PBN.com. You may also follow her on Twitter at @AlexaGagosz.


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