Rhode Island State House

Restore Greater Newport today issued a press release calling on the Rhode Island General Assembly to increase funding for Real Jobs RI.

Restore Greater Newport is an organized coalition of business, tourism, hospitality, manufacturing and marine entities.

According to the Department of Labor and Training’s website, Real Jobs RI grows business-led partnerships that build workforce solutions to address their unique workforce challenges.

The Press Release

Recognizing that critical jobs training programs will more ably allow the Aquidneck Island region to economically recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Restore Greater Newport, a coalition of business, tourism, hospitality, manufacturing and marine entities is calling on the General Assembly to increase funding for Real Jobs Rhode Island.

Real Jobs RI is a program run by the RI Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) that proactively reaches out to business and industry to ascertain expected workforce needs and then design programs – or remove obstacles – to teach those skills to potential employees.

According to Erin Donovan-Boyle, Executive Director of the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce and spokesperson for Restore Greater Newport, the cornerstone of any economy is the ability to sustain employment opportunities for its community. “In Rhode Island, that means providing support to local small businesses that encourages and stimulates job growth. Many small businesses find it extremely difficult to take on the financial risk of a new hire, particularly in these current economic conditions.  Still others are eager to hire but their growth is stymied by the inability to find skilled or trained talent to adequately fill their needs.  That’s where Real Jobs RI comes in and is making a real difference.”

She continued, “While there has been some good news in that through February, the Rhode Island economy has recovered 63,700 or 59 percent of the 108,000 jobs lost during the last year of the pandemic, we are concerned that currently 39,300* Rhode Island residents are unemployed and actively seeking work. The sad reality is the remaining lost jobs may not come back any time soon. We must work to ensure that training and retraining opportunities are available so Rhode Island can reenter the workforce – even if that means switching career paths.”

Specifically, Restore Greater Newport offers the following suggestions to state leaders based on our member’s years of experience in serving as training program intermediaries:

·        Approve the Real Jobs RI Act to ensure that this proven and effective working approach to workforce development remains intact and provides consistency for employers and job seekers alike.

·        Increase the funding level of Real Jobs RI above the existing $3.9M to sustain current effective efforts and support the creation of any new ones necessary to respond to the current and expected needs of hiring employers in this evolving economic landscape.  

·        While the use of CARES Act funding has been able to support some of the RJRI partnerships, specifically with training resulting in jobs, the funding source does not support costs associated with education outreach efforts to build the future pipeline of workers.

·        Ensure all businesses are able to join or are represented by a Real Jobs RI partnership and support the development of new ones, as necessary.

“The Real Jobs Rhode Island (RJRI) initiative/partnership is a nationally recognized, industry-led program that allows employers to define the skills needed for their specific hiring opportunities,” said Molly Donohue Magee, Executive Director of the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance. “The responsive and impactful approach of RJRI is needed now more than ever.”

*Statistic provided by the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training: https://dlt.ri.gov/documents/pdf/lmi/release.pdf