PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo, joined by U.S. Senator Jack Reed, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and other state leaders hosted U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez today on a tour of an apprenticeship program that provides skills training in the plumbing, pipefitting, and steam fitting trades.
The officials spoke with participants in the Rhode Island Urban Apprenticeship Program run by the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, Local 51, in East Providence. The program is one of 26 sector partnerships in Raimondo's Real Jobs Rhode Island job-training plan, which is being funded largely through grants from the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL).
Apprenticeship is a core component of Raimondo's skills strategy to align the state's economic and workforce development policies with the needs of employers. The average starting salary for an apprenticeship graduate is more than $50,000 a year, and for every $1 invested by the public in apprenticeship, there's about $27 in economic activity in return, according to the USDOL.
"I'm delighted that Secretary Perez came to Rhode Island to see firsthand how by investing in skills and partnering with employers, we're helping workers build the skills that matter to get jobs that pay," Raimondo said. "Local 51's apprenticeship program is a customized approach to addressing the skills shortages that employers are experiencing now, and its participants and partners are helping to revitalize the Rhode Island economy."
"In order to create shared prosperity for all Americans we must help more people access the skills and training they need to compete for the jobs of today and tomorrow," U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said. "Apprenticeships are a tried and true training strategy that offers a path to the middle class and expands opportunities for working people. Programs like Real Jobs Rhode Island play an important role in achieving these goals and that is why we must build and sustain these investments to help more ready-to-work Americans find the ready-to-be-filled jobs."
"Secretary Perez has led the charge in modernizing our workforce development system so that it is more responsive to employers and so that it provides employees with real pathways for advancement. We have also worked to reform our federal workforce development policies to support a system that is more nimble, demand-driven, and leverages resources. Governor Raimondo and her team have taken this concept of demand-driven workforce development and run with it. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue fighting for the federal resources to support apprenticeships, adult education, student aid, work-sharing, and job training because when we invest in developing the talents and skills of our people, good things happen," said Senator Reed, who helped secure $5.25 million for Rhode Island last June through the U.S. Department of Labor's Sector Partnership National Emergency Grant program to help launch and support Real Jobs Rhode Island.
"Smart investments in apprenticeship programs provide a gateway to good-paying jobs," Senator Whitehouse said. "I was pleased to have Secretary Perez here today to see federal investments in Rhode Island providing people with the skills they need to get a foothold in the workforce."
Rhode Island State Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio said, "I am grateful to Secretary Perez for his visit to Rhode Island today and for his emphasis on effective workforce policies that equip Rhode Islanders with the skills they need to succeed in a modern job market. Apprenticeships - both traditional ones in the construction trades as well as apprenticeships in non-traditional fields such as IT and advanced manufacturing - are one way in which the Senate has worked to provide effective workforce development tools for Rhode Islanders. Secretary Perez has been an invaluable partner for our state as we focus on workforce development as a central component of our economic development strategies."
"Apprenticeships and career and technical training are critical tools used to close the skills gap and create a talented workforce of the future," Mayor Jorge Elorza said. "Real Jobs Rhode Island and other programs focused on this type of training ensure our residents have access to the education they need to acquire advance their careers."
"Good jobs are the best social policy that anyone can draw up," Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa said. "Apprenticeship leads to good middle-class jobs, promising careers, different life trajectories, and a higher quality of life in our communities. I applaud Secretary Perez for his partnership, Governor Raimondo for her reimagining job training through Real Jobs RI, and the RI Congressional Delegation for fighting for Rhode Island's best interests in Washington, D.C."
"Real Jobs RI supports our efforts to prepare people from diverse backgrounds for meaningful careers in the building trades," Tim Byrne, Business Manager for UA Local 51, said. "We appreciate Governor Raimondo's vision for workforce development and continued support for our apprenticeship program."
About Real Jobs RI
Real Jobs RI is a flexible, demand-driven, $5 million grant program that supports ideas from employers and partners of all sizes and connects people to job openings quickly. Planning and implementation grants help employers analyze the workforce demands of industry, cross-industry, and regional sectors over a sustained period of time and build partner relationships that will produce a stable pipeline of workers to existing jobs and help revitalize the RI economy. Each of the 26 Real Jobs partnerships produced and is now executing a detailed workforce training plan. The plans clearly state the sector's or region's needs, describe what the training is, how it will be implemented, what skills will be attained, and what goals/outcomes will be achieved.