A new $1 million federal grant is coming to Rhode Island through the U.S. Department of Labor's Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI). The funding, which comes through the FY 2011 Appropriations bill, will be used by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) to improve and expand the quality and availability of Rhode Island's workforce data with linkages to education data. The state will use these databases to conduct research and analysis aimed at pinpointing the effectiveness of employment and training programs.
"We need to keep doing everything we can to help create jobs and get people back to work. I commend the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training for winning this competitive grant to assist workers and improve the state's databases and build on the work begun under funding the state received through the U.S. Department of Education's Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems grant. Increasing the availability of high-quality data will help inform decisions about our workforce programs and make them more effective in the long-term," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds these initiatives and who helped strengthen the Workforce Investment Act to ensure comprehensive data is collected, analyzed, and shared by the U.S. Department of Labor.
"This federal funding will help the Department improve workforce education and training at a critical time for our state's economy," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "I thank Senator Reed for his work on this issue, and I have confidence that Director Fogarty will put the funding to good use on behalf of Rhode Islanders."
"Visiting with businessmen and women through my District, I hear repeatedly that there are jobs available in our state, but companies struggle to find workers trained with the skills needed to fill them," said U.S. Representative Jim Langevin. "While this issue requires immediate action to improve collaboration between educators and employers, we must work simultaneously to measure the success of workforce initiatives. Despite their growing fiscal challenges, I applaud the hard work of Director Charlie Fogarty at DLT and his staff to obtain these resources to ensure the state knows what programs work and what should be changed."
"Right now, nothing is more important than making sure we have the resources we need to put Rhode Islanders back to work in well-paying jobs," said U.S. Representative David Cicilline. "I applaud the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training on successfully landing this competitive grant, and I look forward to continuing to work with Director Fogarty so that Rhode Island can access effective tools to create new opportunities for hardworking families."
"By creating a data hub to monitor the relationship between education and employment, Rhode Island will now be able to better measure the effectiveness and impact of its K-20 and workforce development policies," said Charles Fogarty, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.
Over the three year grant period, RIDLT will use the funding to improve state workforce longitudinal data systems with individual-level information; improve the quality and breadth of workforce data systems; use longitudinal data to provide useful information about program operations; analyze the performance of education and training programs and provide user-friendly information to customers to help them select the training and education programs that best suit their needs.
Rhode Island is one of 12 states to receive a share of $11.9 million in WDQI federal funds this year. The other states include: Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Washington.
In 2009, the Rhode Island Department of Education was awarded a $4.67 million Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems grant from the U.S. Department of Education to enable the state to provide accurate, timely, and efficient longitudinal tracking of students through high school and into post-secondary education.