Governor Lincoln D. Chafee joined Director Charles J. Fogarty, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, to announce the approval of the state's fourth non-traditional apprenticeship program — and the second one developed under a program Governor Chafee created and funded in 2013. Established by Gilbane Building Co. in conjunction with Building Futures, during its first year, this apprenticeship program is expected to train one or two job-ready professionals in the construction industry.
"Apprenticeships are one of the most effective pathways into challenging, good-paying careers, and I thank Gilbane and Building Futures for working together on this project," Governor Chafee said. "For more than 75 years, hundreds of thousands of employers across the United States have used the apprenticeship model to recruit, train and retain workers with the right skills. I believe that by investing in talent, we keep pace with the latest advances in growth sectors and help meet anticipated workforce shortages in other industries such as construction."
Governor Chafee's proposed fiscal year 2014 budget allocated up to $150,000 to develop core elements of non-traditional apprenticeship programs. These components include classroom instruction using the highest industry standards, and earn while you learn on-the-job training and sponsors, which can be single employers, multi-employer partnerships or unions.
"The sponsorships are vital because they're true partnerships and because companies and trade unions know their industries, and the skills that they need to cultivate to build an agile workforce," Director Fogarty said. "At the same time, companies can realize a number of benefits from implementing apprenticeships such as creating customized training to develop a highly skilled workforce and stay ahead of the competition, reducing turnover and liability costs and improving productivity, profitability and their bottom line."
"The construction industry is facing some serious challenges in the near and long term that include an anticipated shortage of trained labor and a dwindling number of highly skilled professionals entering the workforce. This apprenticeship program offers a creative, non-traditional way to increase the talent pool that we need to tap into for these essential industry roles while, at the same time, providing college credit and real-life experience to those who may not have the means to acquire them otherwise," Pierre LaPerriere, Senior Vice President and Director of Human Resources for Gilbane Building Company, said. "Based on the program's success in Rhode Island, our vision is to replicate the program at other Gilbane locations around the country so we can boost interest in these important positions, help fill a pressing need for experienced workers and create career opportunities for women, minority and veterans groups seeking a path to good paying jobs."
"Gilbane has demonstrated its leadership in the construction industry yet again; in partnership, this innovative 'white-collar' registered apprenticeship program will demonstrate the power of apprenticeship to effectively develop careers beyond the traditional building trades occupations," Andrew Cortés, Director of Building Futures, said. "By designing and leveraging this earn-while-you-learn model with us, Gilbane's apprenticeship program provides an additional approach to further diversify its workforce and incorporates elements of Building Futures' nationally celebrated pre-apprenticeship program, which extends and expands career opportunities to the Rhode Island residents in the construction industry we serve."
With today's announcement, Governor Chafee's administration has now established non-traditional apprenticeships in information technology (February 2012, through the employer sponsorship of Atrion Networking Corp.); the marine trades (March 2013, through industry sponsor the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, and training partner the New England Institute of Technology); computer numerically controlled machining (May 2014) and today's announcement for construction managers and cost estimators. Apprenticeships are mostly found in the construction related trades in occupations such as plumbers, electricians, pipe fitters, sheet metal workers and ironworkers among others.
Following enactment of the FY 2014 budget by the General Assembly, the Governor's Workforce Board (GWB), the state's workforce policy-making body, issued an RFP to establish two new non-traditional apprenticeship programs. GWB, which selected the computer numerically controlled machining and construction industry apprenticeships in November 2013, has been statutorily charged by the Governor and General Assembly with promoting and developing non-traditional apprenticeships by awarding grants to GWB Industry partnerships. GWB will be doing so again this fall.
The State Office of Apprenticeship, led by Bernard Treml III, is a unit of DLT's Division of Workforce Regulation and Safety. The office registers, educates about, promotes and expands apprenticeships in Rhode Island. In 2013, this office oversaw 551 apprenticeship programs and more than 1,300 individual agreements. Some 305 apprentices completed their programs in 2013.
For more information, contact Michael Healey, Chief Public Affairs Officer, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, (401) 462-8090 or Michael.Healey@DLT.ri.gov