Originally appearing: https://www.businessinsider.com/rhode-island-45-million-workforce-development-plan-2020-7
By: Natasha Solo-Lyons
Posted: Friday, September 18, 2020
Rhode Island is using $45 million of federal stimulus funding to fast-track its economic comeback, and it’s lined up an impressive roster of private-sector partners. But it could be more than that.
The state’s “Back to Work RI” initiative could be a model for how government and business will work together to revive the economy.
The initiative intends to bring thousands of job opportunities to Rhode Islanders displaced by COVID-19 and help break down traditional barriers to hiring using CARES Act funding. The approach shifts Rhode Island from the old “train and pray” model, as the state’s press release from July calls it, to “a new paradigm – train, support, and hire.”
More recently, global tech and consulting giant Infosys has committed to adding 1,000 jobs in the state, furthering Raimondo’s job creation efforts. Recruiting businesses to add jobs in a crisis amid double-digit unemployment has been monumental, according to the governor.
“As a leader, I’m trying to look ahead and build for the future,” Raimondo told Business Insider, adding that she plans to take advantage of the state’s proximity to major cities like New York and Boston to position Rhode Island as the perfect work-from-home location, where quality of life is high and workers, particularly in sectors such as media and tech, can work remotely with ease.
“Getting Rhode Islanders back to work doesn’t mean returning to the old way of doing business,” Gov. Gina Raimondo said on Facebook live in July. “We need to give Rhode Islanders the skills and support they need to succeed in the new economy while building pathways to good jobs for people who have traditionally faced barriers to employment.”
Partners include companies such as Amgen, Bank of America, CVS Health, Microsoft, Raytheon, Salesforce, and Twitter, unions such as the Laborers’ International Union of North America and Service Employees International Union, and nonprofits such as Care New England Health System. Every participating employer will sign a pledge to open opportunities to Rhode Islanders.
On the Facebook live event, Microsoft President Brad Smith said, “This is all about the formula, because I do think this is precisely the right kind of formula that not just Rhode Island but the whole nation needs,” adding that these kinds of partnerships matter most to deliver meaningful skills to the workforce.
According to the state’s press release, the CARES program will offer new resources to foster skill development and will create immediate roles that focus on higher-paying, sustainable jobs in sectors such as healthcare, financial services, and IT.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff echoed that sentiment, saying business is the perfect platform for change and committing to creating 3 million new jobs by 2023.
“If we embrace this opportunity and supercharge the collaborative approach to job training that has helped us rebound over the past six years, ” Raimondo said, “Rhode Island’s economy will be stronger, more equal, and more resilient than ever before.”