Rhode Island's Congressional delegation today announced that the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) will receive a new, competitive $2.78 million Workforce Innovation Fund grant to support employment and training services.
Administered by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Workforce innovation Fund invests in programs that enhance workforce investment strategies, particularly for vulnerable populations, and expand existing programs with a proven record of success.
"A skilled workforce is essential to getting Rhode Island's economy back on track. These Workforce Innovation funds will improve job training programs. It will help more Rhode Islanders develop the skills they need to get a job and build a career," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education who helped create the competitive Workforce Innovation Fund grant program to expand innovative approaches to job training and career support.
"I've heard over and over again from business owners in our state who say they want to hire, but are struggling to find people who are properly trained for the available job openings," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "With too many Rhode Islanders still out of work, we should do everything possible to help job seekers gain the skills needed for today's job market. This federal funding will help our state work toward that goal."
"With so many Americans affected simultaneously by the economic downturn and rapidly changing job market, the only way to effectively deal with our long-term unemployment crisis is through retraining aligned with the skills required by growing industries," said U.S. Representative Jim Langevin. "While some positive steps have been taken to address this challenge to our recovery, the Administration's Workforce Innovation Fund is a critical part of providing a fair opportunity to millions of families who are struggling to make ends meet and relying on public assistance programs. This funding represents an important opportunity for our state to put the Rhode Islanders hardest hit by the recession back to work."
"Ensuring more Rhode Islanders have the skills and resources they need to compete for jobs in today's economy requires the kind of creativity and collaboration supported by the Workforce Innovation Fund, which is why I am proud to support this initiative and pleased to join in announcing these vitally important workforce training funds for Rhode Island," said U.S. Representative David Cicilline. "Building stronger pathways to well-paying job opportunities for Rhode Islanders will help get our economy back on the right track."
"The Workforce Innovation Grant will enable Rhode Island to create career pathways that link upward mobility to education. The creation of career pathways for in-demand industries will help RI employers connect with appropriately skilled workers and provide RI job seekers with career advancement opportunities," said Charles Fogarty, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.
RIDLT will use these funds to build on existing work by the Governor's Workforce Board's On-Ramps to Career Pathways program in two ways:
- It will establish 3-4 career pathways and align and integrate a range of public funding streams.
- It will enable low-skilled, low-literacy, and long-term unemployed workers to successfully access the career pathways and access the private-sector training and experience needed to gain greater economic stability.
Rhode Island is one of eighteen states to receive a portion of the $147 million in Workforce Innovation Fund grants. The Department of Labor initially announced the availability of $98 million in federal grants, however, due to the high volume of applications and demand for resources, $49 million in additional funds were provided.
The other states to receive funding include: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.