When talking about the job skills gap in Rhode Island, most of the discussion concerns information technology companies that have trouble finding workers who can walk into a job without significant training time and cost.
But a visit by U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin to the University of Rhode Island’s biotech-manufacturing program at its Providence campus highlights the success and shortfall of state efforts in that sector.
The story is two-fold. One, the program is just the right mix of education and job training, with internships at biotech companies supplementing classroom and lab time. It could use more funding (and more internships), but URI has gotten the idea right.
On the other hand, however, is the fact that the lion’s share of the program’s 250 graduates so far have found employment in Massachusetts or Connecticut.
What that points out is the need for continued efforts to support the development of the biotechnology sector in Rhode Island, whether through strategic public-private investments or through targeted tax policy.
One thing is for sure – the biotech sector needs tending to reach its full potential.