Workforce Board awards $1.1M in grants to seven industry groups
THE GOVERNOR'S WORKFORCE Board has awarded $1.1 million to seven state industry groups to address the skills gap in Rhode Island. Above, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee speaking at a Workforce Board meeting in May.
PROVIDENCE – The Governor’s Workforce Board has awarded a total of $1.1 million in Industry Partnership grants to eight groups with proposals aimed at addressing the skills gap in Rhode Island.
Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee announced the awards, which he called “strategic investments” in the state’s future workforce, on Wednesday morning. They were made through the GWB’s Strategic Investments and Evaluation Committee, he said.
“Nationally and here in Rhode Island, we’ve seen the continuing shift toward higher skill needs because of technology changes and the resizing of labor forces requiring workers to do more within their existing jobs,” Chafee said. “Therefore, we must continue our strategic investment in workforce development to prepare more skilled, educated and agile workers to meet the real-time needs of Rhode Island's vital industry sectors.”
The groups receiving grants and their respective awards include: the Tech Collective, $150,000 in biosciences and $150,000 in information technology; Building Futures, $117,000 in construction; Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance, $104,000 in defense; Stepping Up, $193,000 in health care, a sector that employs one in seven Rhode Island workers; R.I. Hospitality Education Foundation, $150,000 in hospitality and tourism; Polaris MEP, $150,000 in manufacturing; and the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, $157,000 in the maritime industry.
The grants are intended to expand workforce training and education programs in ways that improve employee skills and business productivity while complementing existing programs and preventing overlap, said GWB Executive Director Rick Brooks.
“The training and education pipelines that these grants help create will give employers access to the skilled employees they need to be productive and competitive, and workers access to the career pathways that they need to land good jobs in meaningful careers,” Brook said.
The grant winners all demonstrated how their proposals would meet four major public workforce system priorities in the GWB’s Biennial Employment Training Plan. Those include employer partnerships, work readiness, career pathways and integration of the public workforce system, he said.