The Governor's Workforce Board Rhode Island is seeking to add Manufacturing to its list of actively funded Industry Partnerships, which includes such growth industries as Bioscience, Construction, Defense, Health Care, Hospitality, Information Technology and Marine Trades.
Up to $100,000 in funding is available for an organization or consortium to serve as a workforce intermediary with the RI manufacturing community. That intermediary will help match the skills sets most desired by RI businesses with training opportunities for RI job seekers, in order to improve the sector's overall competitiveness. A formal request for proposals was made public this week at http://www.gwb.ri.gov/RFPs.htm. Proposals are due by June 8, 2012.
Governor Lincoln D. Chafee states, "It is our hope that investing in the manufacturing workforce will build the skills, credentials and earning power of its members. This coordinated effort toward education and training will also benefit the sector as a whole, by building greater awareness of best practices and new technologies among all Rhode Island manufacturers, large and small."
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. According to Labor Market Information, more than one quarter of the manufacturing workforce is age 55 or older. Governor's Workforce Board Executive Director Rick Brooks explains, "The impending retirement of these employees may offer new opportunities for the next generation of manufacturing workers, provided that their skill sets are well-matched to the needs of 21st-century manufacturing operations."
This effort reinvigorates the board's efforts to support the manufacturing industry. Previously, the Governor's Workforce Board had supported an industry partnership with the RI Manufacturing Extension Service and the RI Manufacturing Association from 2006 to 2008.
The Governor's Workforce Board is the primary workforce development policy-making body for the state of Rhode Island. Led by Chair Constance A. Howes, the 17-member board supports strategies that improve the existing skill base of the Rhode Island workforce and anticipate the future needs of growing and emerging businesses. Since its inception in 2005, the Governor's Workforce Board has made more than $56-million worth of strategic investments in Rhode Island that reward collaboration among the state's employment, education and economic development entities.