Continuing from last week’s post, our first wave is ambitious. It will turn heads, change perceptions, and put Rhode Island back in the game regionally and nationally. It must hit with speed and urgency to provide the needed jolt to our still-struggling economy by building the skills for success. We are dedicating significant resources to this first phase. It starts at the beginning and focuses on our core: our workforce. We are investing in our elementary schools, then continuing along the chain through high school, college and beyond.
One of the top issues Rhode Island employers face is access to a qualified, skilled workforce that meets their business needs. The solution begins at the point when students are just starting to think about their future careers — in our high schools. In April, Governor Raimondo introduced the Prepare RI and P-Tech initiatives, designed to help high school students prepare and train today for the jobs of tomorrow.
P-Tech is a national program that enables high school students to work towards an associate’s degree through partnerships between public high schools, colleges and companies. The program was developed by IBM to help meet their need for a steady stream of talented, skilled workers. The participation of local companies ensures that the program will meet the demand while simultaneously creating jobs for local students after graduation.
Prepare RI creates the opportunity for public high school students to take public university-accredited courses taught by a high school teacher concurrently with their high school curriculum, at no cost to the student. Students participating in this program will receive an affordable jumpstart to their college or professional careers while focusing on industries and skills to meet the need of local employers.
In addition to the Prepare RI and P-Tech programs for high school students, we are establishing a student loan forgiveness program, called the Wavemaker Fellowship, to reimburse approximately 100 students graduating from Rhode Island colleges for four years of student loan payments when they pursue careers or start businesses in technology, engineering, design or other key sectors.
While it is critical to prepare our students for the jobs that will be available to them, it is even more critical to help the current workforce fit into the jobs that are available today. Working through the Department of Labor and Training, we are partnering with local businesses to ensure we are training people to fill the existing workforce need.
The WAVE will help Rhode Islanders build the skills they need to succeed and provide the predictability businesses need to grow and expand with confidence. By driving this bold action, we will create the opportunities for people to make it in Rhode Island.Categories: Projects, WAVE, Workforce