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Governor's Workforce Board Announces Initiative to Provide Subsidized Work for College Students and Unemployed

Providence, RI – The Governor's Workforce Board has launched the first phase of its new RI Work Immersion Program, designed to provide subsidized work experiences for Rhode Island-based college students and unemployed adults. Proposed by Governor Chafee and approved by the General Assembly, the $500,000 program is the first time in recent memory that Rhode Island General Revenue funds have been allocated for workforce development programming. The program expects to subsidize more than 250 work experiences in Fiscal Year 2014.

"I believe strongly that the financing of the work immersion program is a valuable investment in our economy. This venture is the first of its kind using State funds to help Rhode Islanders obtain work experience." Governor Lincoln D. Chafee said. "By creating new opportunities for meaningful work experience, we are building both the skills and the résumés of the current and future workforce."

The first phase of the Work Immersion Program will support the expansion of paid internships for college students by providing a 50-percent wage subsidy to participating businesses. To be eligible, internships must either provide college credit or receive an endorsement from the intern's higher education institution. Work experiences must pay between $7.75 and $20 per hour, and can range in duration from 45 to 200 hours. Bonus funding will be available to businesses that permanently hire the intern upon completion of the internship.

GWB Chair Constance Howes said: "The work immersion program offers businesses a financial incentive to help train the next generation of workers. By collaborating with the public and private colleges and universities in Rhode Island, we hope to expand upon the many existing relationships between Rhode Island employers and higher education, and involve more employers in the effort." Howes adds that in addition to working with college career offices, the Governor's Workforce Board and the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training will conduct business outreach to generate interest in the program.

The second phase of the Work Immersion Program will provide a 50-percent wage subsidy to employers that provide a 200-hour paid work experience to unemployed adults. Participants must be referred by either a public or private-sector program serving unemployed Rhode Islanders. As with college students, employers that permanently hire the unemployed adult at the completion of the work immersion will receive bonus funding. This second phase of the program is expected to launch in late fall.

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