FREDERICK GILL, project director at New England Institute of Technology, was recently recognized by the Rhode Island Builders Association with an award of appreciation for his contributions to construction-trades students in the state’s career and technical high schools.
Can you speak on the work you are doing as part of the Residential Construction Workforce Partnership? I work with instructors and students enrolled in construction-trades programs at CTE [career and technical] and comprehensive high schools in Rhode Island through the “Bridging the Gap” Secondary/Postsecondary Articulation in Technical Education grant assigned to New England Tech. The main focus is to oversee the NCCER [National Center for Construction Education and Research] standardized curriculum adopted by RIDE [R.I. Department of Education] and obtain work-based learning opportunities that are viable for students entering the construction trades. My focus is always on collaborating with business professionals sharing the same goal, which is to provide more opportunities and awareness of the construction trades in R.I.
Why is the work of RCWP important for Rhode Island? The Residential Construction Workforce Partnership, [with] Real Jobs Rhode Island, in my opinion, is one of the best initiatives that our state and Department of Labor and Training have ever put together. The partnership has brought the business community into schools with the collaboration of the Department of Education, Rhode Island Builders Association, New England Tech and other state colleges as a postsecondary option.
Through the RCWP and RJRI we are able to apply additional funding in programs and Work-Based Learning Projects to engage students and give them exposure and opportunities that were not available to them before. We now have industry partners working alongside students and we are making huge advances in educating the employers of Rhode Island about the talent and skills that our students leave school with that makes them 100 percent employable from the first day after graduation.
By working together with our businesses, such as Andersen Window Corp. and Rhode Island Lumber Dealers Association, to discuss the concerns of employers and also educating businesses in Rhode Island about this mission, it is evolving into another opportunity for everyone to participate in the mission of increasing the pipeline of students coming into the industry.
Why is it important for different entities such as NEIT, RIBA and local high schools to make lasting connections and coordinate partner programs? Partnerships such as these strengthen and enhance student opportunities, and thus supply the construction workforce in R.I. The success of programs [such as] the RCWP is essential to the future growth and redevelopment of our state. Without getting more of our students in the industry for jobs, there is less work that can be produced, therefore less money will be spent on development. Without adding [work-ready] employers to the workforce, we will not be able to attract more business to come here and will lose current businesses … that will have to relocate to satisfy their employer needs.
Also, without collaboration there is no way of creating and improving opportunities and awareness, whether it’s entering the workforce or furthering education on a postsecondary level. Without partner programs, we cannot gain the knowledge needed to constantly keep evolving and maintaining the changing standards required in the industry. If we are all on the same page and share the same goals and values, it is possible for all industry/education partners to flourish in their organizations.
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