PROVIDENCE – The Governor’s Workforce Board is conducting a comprehensive survey of employers as summer winds to a close as part of its work on the state’s second Biennial Employment and Training Plan.
Employers are asked to complete a 13-question survey online by Aug. 25, said Rick Brooks, the board’s executive director. A consultant hired for $38,000 will help compile the data, which will be used to help the state prioritize resources to address the needs of Rhode Island businesses and any skills gaps in training or education, Brooks said.
The GWB is required by state law to produce the biennial plan every two years to provide guidance to the governor and lawmakers about training needs and skills gaps in Rhode Island. The first biennial plan was published in November 2012; this one is due this coming November.
“We did not do anything this formal [last time],” Brooks said. “We had a couple of on-the-fly surveys at employer gatherings that happened for other purposes. This is a much more extensive and comprehensive survey.”
Some of the questions, which offer multiple-choice answers, focus on barriers to positions at different levels of employment, from entry-level to high-skill positions. The survey also asks employers to identify strategies and resources used to surmount barriers, as well as a range of the number of new hires expected within the next year at the company filling out the survey.
The GWB is reaching out to employers via email and emailed newsletters using lists provided by the R.I. Commerce Corporation, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, Chambers of Commerce, GWB industry partners, the Rhode Island Foundation and the state chapter of the Society of Human Resource Managers, Brooks said.
While there will likely be some overlap in potentially several thousand responses, he expects unique responses to total in the hundreds – a much larger sample than gathered previously, he said.
Among the priorities identified by the 2012 biennial plan were the importance of soft skills to work readiness in hiring and filling vacancies – such skills as showing up to work on time, dressing and communicating appropriately and so on, Brooks said.
One of the recommendations to come out of the 2012 plan was to “promote a statewide internship campaign to provide work experience and connect high school students, college students, recent graduates, out-of-school youth and unemployed adults with Rhode Island employers.” That materialized in 2013 with bRIdge.jobs, an online portal that matches up employers and job-seekers.