October 31, 2014
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Preparing for jobs of the future

To the Editor:

A legislative package of bills that originated in the Senate last year – Making it Easy to Do Business in Rhode Island – is now in place in law, paving the way to an improved economic climate in the state by eliminating bureaucratic barriers to growth and in other ways encouraging the creation of jobs.

Those new jobs, when they come, will need skilled workers to do them. In addition to attracting the new jobs, the state needs to help prepare its citizens to fill them.

Building on what was enacted last year and as a result of a Senate-sponsored economic summit that focused on government-private partnerships and workforce development, I have introduced a bill in the Senate that can enhance the current state workforce development and job match system and address skill gaps in a manner that aligns with business and industry needs.

The “Rhode Island Enhanced Jobs Match Program,” 2012-S 2693, acknowledges that the state’s career pathways system must be driven by local business and industry needs. It calls on the state to make a focused effort to provide easy access for business to find competent employees and for job seekers to obtain necessary resources, training and skills development.

The Jobs Match Program legislation attempts to ensure that the state’s labor force is equipped with the skills employers need, that workforce development is a focus at all levels of government and education, and that we continue to build partnerships to achieve greater success in addressing skills gaps. The legislation directs the Department of Labor and Training to implement the Enhanced Job Match System before July 1, 2013, using the department’s existing web-based workforce and job system as a basis. The enhanced system would be advertised and promoted to maximize business and employment use.

Rhode Island needs to build upon the efforts of the Department of Labor and Training to facilitate employers’ access to high quality, skilled job seekers. Our state’s economy may remain sluggish for a while, but it will rebound. And when companies – new or existing – need to hire, it is important that the state has helped its citizens prepare and position themselves to acquire those jobs.

An identical House bill, 2012-H 7861, has been introduced by Rep. Donna M. Walsh (D-Dist. 36, Charlestown, New Shoreham, South Kingstown, Westerly).

James C. Sheehan
Senator – District 36
Narragansett, North Kingstown


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