Continuing his push to build new industries in the Ocean State, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today visited a pair of innovative small businesses and a Providence job training initiative designed to give unemployed residents the opportunity to enter growing fields. At the Genesis Center, Langevin took part in a forum with participants in the organization's programs that prepare workers for employment in expanding fields like health care.
The event was part of his Rhode Island Skilled Economy (RISE) Tour, which has highlighted ways to better align workers' skills with employers' needs. Langevin emphasized that closing our skills gap is one key to rebuilding the economy and creating more job opportunities.
"As I visit businesses throughout my District, particularly in sectors of the economy with the most growth potential, I repeatedly hear about struggles to find qualified workers to fill available positions, even in a time of high unemployment," said Langevin. "We need to support targeted efforts like the Genesis Center's Health Care Careers training to ensure we have a workforce that can spur growth in our state.
"No one program or person can reverse the impact of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but closing the skills gap through better collaboration between industries and educators is a critical part of giving our workers and businesses the opportunity to reach their potential."
The Genesis Center staff, led by Executive Director Pheamo Witcher, noted that the facility serves up to 600 individuals in its adult education and workforce development programs, which particularly focus on sectors of the economy that have potential for growth, including health care and culinary arts.
"Times are tough right now, especially in our community, but we are proud to have shown that this type of program enables family members to improve their job outlook and their prospects for moving up in a career once they get a job," said Witcher. "We are grateful that Congressman Langevin is working hard to make more of these opportunities available to people in Rhode Island."
Many of today's participants were enrolled in the 13-week health care curriculum, which exposes them to career possibilities, such as nursing and elder care, and contains both a classroom and internship segment. Langevin has pointed out that even during the 18-month recession, the health care sector added 428,000 jobs nationally, due to high demand for these services, and that we can create more opportunities in Rhode Island in this area. The Center partners with professional providers of health care such as Rhode Island Hospital and Women and Infants Hospitals' Stepping Up program, which assists students in getting entry jobs in hospital settings.
Following the discussion, Langevin visited two small companies that epitomize the type of businesses that can help grow Rhode Island back to prosperity. He first met with Nalari Health President and CEO Mark Treat and his staff about their innovations to improve delivery of health services through "online healthcare." They further addressed the opportunities available in the health care industry.
Later, the Congressman traveled to North Kingstown to tour Subsalve USA, which manufactures underwater floatation devices, with President Richard Fryburg and his employees. The company supplies products and services to the diving industry worldwide, and makes devices used for aircraft recovery, ship, yacht, and boat salvage, and marine construction, among other purposes.
"Mark, Rick and their staffs are examples of how Rhode Island can lead in a growing industry like health care and in manufacturing," said Langevin. "It's vital that we listen to them and work to create an environment, including a skilled workforce and access to capital, which allows companies like Nalari Health and Subsalve USA to succeed."