Every Rhode Islander should have access to the education, training, and support they need to get a good job.
In last six years, we’ve made major progress here in Rhode Island. Together, we made Rhode Island one of a handful of states to offer tuition-free community college to every high school graduate, and our Real Jobs Rhode Island program has trained 10,000 Rhode Islanders for good-paying jobs. But the COVID-19 crisis has been devastating, putting thousands of Rhode Islanders out of work and accelerating trends that were already rapidly changing our economy. To rebuild our economy – and to make it more equitable and resilient than before – we need to train and hire differently, with support along the way and the promise of a job at the finish line. Earlier this week, we launched a new, first-of-its-kind program to accomplish exactly that.
Back to Work RI brings government and private sector together to build tailor-made job training pathways for up to 7,000 Rhode Islanders. On Tuesday, I was joined by more than a dozen business and community leaders from around the country to talk about why this model works.
Getting Rhode Islanders Back to Work doesn’t mean returning to the old way of doing business. We need to give Rhode Islanders the skills and support they need to succeed in the new economy while building pathways to good jobs for people who have traditionally faced barriers to employment.
To ensure that every participant has the tools they need to succeed, Back to Work RI participants will work closely with a highly trained career coach. The career coach will provide personalized job counseling as the participant navigates the program and will connect the participant to wraparound supports – such as language support, financial coaching, childcare, transportation, and access to technology.
This is more than a “train and pray” method, where candidates learn jobs skills and then are left to fend for themselves. Every participating employer will sign a pledge to open opportunities to Rhode Islanders through the public-private partnership of Back to Work RI. This approach will move us to a new paradigm – train, support, and hire.
Traditionally, employers have hired based on credentials over competency. Back to Work RI is about flipping the script and getting companies to commit to hiring someone who works hard and acquires the skills and certification to do the job well, even if they don’t check a certain box.
Thousands of Rhode Islanders and millions of Americans want to work hard in a good, family-supporting job. It’s on us to give them that opportunity.
We’re all in this together,
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