Plan Puts Forth Statewide Priorities for Addressing Skill Gap
Providence, RI – Governor Lincoln D. Chafee joined the Governor's Workforce Board today for the release of its Biennial Employment and Training Plan for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. The plan analyzes the skills of the Rhode Island workforce, the needs of Rhode Island employers, and statewide priorities for addressing skill gaps between workforce supply and demand.
In the introduction to the report, Governor Chafee emphasized the important role workforce development plays in improving the Rhode Island economy, and stated, "Ensuring Rhode Island employers have the trained workers needed to grow our economy, and connecting potential employees with the necessary skills and training to help them get hired, is more important now than it has ever been."
A sampling of findings from the report include the following:
Rhode Island lost eight percent of its jobs since the peak of employment in 2006. There is no shortage of workers to fill positions except at the highest skilled occupational levels. Despite high unemployment rates, employers report a skills mismatch between their business needs and workforce skills. Nearly 40 percent of working-age adults hold only a high school degree or less. In considering the ratio of unemployment claimants to online job postings, the only two occupational groups with more job postings than unemployment claimants are Health Care and Technology. Rhode Island spent more than $54 million in public dollars on workforce programs in FY2012, with 77 percent of the funding from federal sources. Based upon these findings, the Biennial Plan outlines the following four priorities: (1) strengthening partnerships among employers, government and education; (2) promoting work readiness among adults and youth; (3) building career pathways for upward mobility in Rhode Island's high-growth industries; and (4) improving coordination among the public workforce system and its stakeholders, particularly economic development.
Among the action steps recommended to "engage employers as full partners" in the public workforce system are: leveraging employer support for more internships, on-the-job training and experiential learning opportunities; improving the analysis of current job vacancies to prioritize training options; and expanding marketing and promoting employer usage of the state's EmployRI.org online job matching system.
A key work-readiness recommendation is to create a statewide, employer-recognized work-readiness credential to be incorporated into workforce education and training programs. Key career pathways recommendations include expanding the use of Career and Technical school facilities to adults and establishing seamless career pathways from K-16 to employment. Lastly, the public workforce system is urged to leverage data and funding streams for greater collaboration and efficiency.
The Biennial Plan was the product of several months of intensive work by a 35-member advisory group that includes representatives of state and local agencies, private business, higher education, labor and non-profits. Its production is mandated by RI General Law 42-102-9 (h), and is intended to outline goals and objectives for the RI workforce development system.
The Governor's Workforce Board is the primary policy-making body on workforce development matters for the State of Rhode Island, and has statutory responsibility and authority to plan, coordinate, fund and evaluate workforce development activities in the state.