Raimondo working on three programs, two need funding
When she was running for governor, Gina Raimondo devoted a lot of time explaining how she would bring better-paying jobs to Rhode Island.
On the "Jobs and the Economy" page of her campaign website, she noted that "Today's jobs require 21st-century skills and a new level of technical competency. Employers are looking for critical thinking abilities; knowledge of science, engineering and technology; and computer proficiency. If we are going to position our state to succeed, our workforce development efforts need to reflect this reality."
And then she said she would, "Create opportunities for our high school students who choose not to attend college by expanding career and technical training throughout the state."
We should note that when we checked the site, the document outlining her promise had either been removed or relocated. (We're working off an archived copy.)
We wondered what was happening with that expansion.
Raimondo spokeswoman Marie Aberger said three programs fit the bill.
The first, Pathways in Technology (P-TECH), is patterned after a program started in New York and sponsored by IBM. It calls for letting a company tailor a high school curriculum to include courses that will prepare students for jobs in that company.
"Students not only earn a high school diploma, but they also earn an associate's degree and get the first-in-line right to a job at those employers," said Raimondo Deputy Chief of Staff Kevin Gallagher. "The governor's proposing that we try to do three of the P-TECH programs in Rhode Island. We're working with large companies like Electric Boat and CVS, and groups of smaller companies, to figure out how we might launch programs like this in three Rhode Island high schools."
Article 29 of Raimondo's proposed budget for the Commerce Corporation calls for spending $900,000 on that initiative.
The second is Prepare RI, which lets high school students take college courses or earn credit toward an industry certificate through the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island at no cost. Students can take the courses at those locations. In addition, some of the classes will be taught at local high schools.
(Some school systems are already letting advanced students take such classes.)
"Conceivably we will have high school graduates who not only graduate with a diploma from their high school but also with an industry certification" administered by CCRI, said Gallagher. "Those include job-ready certificates in areas such as accounting, chemical technology, computer desktop technician, culinary arts, dental assisting and early childhood education.
"It benefits all the students who want to go from high school to the workforce," he said. "It will also help college access and college affordability for students because they'll be earning college credits that will be transferable to CCRI, RIC and URI, and every post-secondary institution that has a reciprocal or transfer agreement" with those schools.
The state Board of Education has already approved the proposal, so it will be implemented for the next school year. A $1.3-million proposal to make the courses free and available to all high school students is now before the General Assembly as Article 7 of Raimondo's proposed budget.
The third program, open to anyone, not just high school students, is called Real Jobs RI.
"Right now we have a bunch of workforce development programs that are training people for jobs that don't exist and we have a bunch of employers with vacancies they can't fill because the workers don't have the skills for their jobs," said Gallagher.
That program will redirect $1.3 million -- this $1.3 million is in federal funds resting in the state's Job Development Fund -- to sponsor training programs specifically designed to make people employable by a participating company. The Governor's Workforce Board already voted to appropriate the money, said Aberger.
As for conventional training, she said Raimondo's budget is calling for an increase in career and technical education and for vocational education grants in the Rhode Island Department of Education budget. That amount, coincidentally, is also $1.3 million.
In summary, Raimondo has three programs in the works designed to meet her goal. Two need funding from the General Assembly to work as planned. The third is funded, but not fully implemented.
Thus, we will rate this promise as In The Works.
In December, we decided that the promised career and technical training program is under way this school year.
We changed the ruling to a Promise Kept.
GinaRaimondo.com, "Jobs and the Economy," undated, archived from Nov. 5, 2014. The link to this promise no longer works.
RI.gov, "Raimondo Continues to Highlight Jobs Plan: Making College Accessible, Affordable," April 1, 2015, and "Raimondo Jobs Plan: Working with Employers to Fill 'Real Jobs' Now," April 15, 2015, both accessed May 15, 2015
Budget.RI.gov, "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations - Fiscal Year 2016 Executive Summary," March 12, 2015, accessed May 15, 2015
Emails, Marie Aberger, spokeswoman, Gov. Gina Raimondo, April 21-May 22, 2015
Interview, Kevin Gallagher, deputy chief of staff, Gov. Gina Raimondo, May 19, 2015