Summit to explore skills gap causes, solutions

By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer

Is there a skills gap in Rhode Island? That is, are available jobs going unfilled or being taken by employees who then cost companies, large and small, thousands of dollars in training hours and instruction? More

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WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Summit to explore skills gap causes, solutions

By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 10/22/12

(Correction, Oct. 23, 10 a.m.)

Is there a skills gap in Rhode Island?

That is, are available jobs going unfilled or being taken by employees who then cost companies, large and small, thousands of dollars in training hours and instruction?

Is this because the state’s educational system and higher education institutions aren’t preparing students for today’s job market?

Or, is the real problem a talent shortage, meaning that in-need industries, including midskill trades, have somehow failed to attract new workers to their depleting ranks? Is this talent shortage made worse by a so-called brain drain, in which recent college graduates are fleeing Rhode Island because there aren’t enough jobs?

The answers appear to be yes – to all of the above, according to education and private-sector leaders who will participate in the Providence Business News Summit, Employers and Education on Oct. 30 at the Crown Plaza Hotel Providence-Warwick in Warwick.

“Workforce development and education and economic development need to be better attuned to each other’s needs and responsibilities so we can hopefully create a more vibrant Rhode Island for all its citizens,” said Steven Kitchin, vice president for corporate education and training at New England Institute of Technology. “We are at a critical juncture. There are some decisions about Rhode Island’s future that are going to be based in some part on our ability to have our workers meet the needs of our region’s employees.”

Kitchin and other speakers will come together in two panel discussions at the summit.

One discussion will center on mid-skill jobs and how to align what employers need with what students are learning.

The second discussion will focus on higher and continuing education’s role in preparing students for high-skilled jobs in technology, health care and engineering, as well as training them in soft skills.

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