By Michael Souza
PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Service has received a $85,000 award from the Governor’s Workforce Board. With the funding, RIMES plans to work with the state Workforce Strategy Center to develop a new skill-gap study. The report will include a training curriculum and assist in building career pathways for targeted occupations.
The study will evaluate high-growth, high-wage focus areas in Rhode Island, with a goal of reducing the skill gaps between the knowledge-base of the available workforce and the skill sets currently required by private businesses. Other GWB industry partnerships represent the areas of bioscience, construction, defense, health care, hospitality, information technology and marine trades. Many of these partnerships are also actively involved in articulating career pathways that tie upward mobility within an industry to specific skills, training and educational attainment.
“Manufacturers need to take a strategy-oriented approach, such as ‘What kinds of skills do we need to become a world-class manufacturer and expand our markets?’” said Harsha Prakash, RIMES CEO in a prepared statement. “RIMES, in concert with our strategic partners and through the Governor’s Workforce Board Industry Partners Grant, can connect Rhode Island’s education and training system to the manufacturing industry to build bridges of opportunity for Rhode Island’s workforce.”
In Rhode Island, manufacturing has the fifth largest employment of all industry sectors, comprising more than 40,000 workers and paying more than $2 billion in wages in 2011. However, in 2011, job seekers in the manufacturing sectors also represented the largest percentage of unemployed workers among the state’s 20 different industry sectors.
GWB Executive Director Rick Brooks added that over time, as the manufacturing workforce receives relevant training that can bridge existing skill gaps, not only will existing manufacturing companies benefit, but other companies seeking a skilled workforce may also be interested in relocating to the Ocean State.