As of June 2016, more than 30,000 Rhode Islanders didn't have jobs and were actively trying to find work, according to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT). At the same time, some Rhode Island employers say they can't find qualified workers to fill their job vacancies. This divide is known as the 'skills gap.'
On Thursday, September 29 at 8 p.m., Rhode Island PBS presents Bridging the Divide: Fixing the Skills Gap in Rhode Island, a one-hour interactive discussion moderated by Jennifer McCaffery, associate editor of Rhode Island Monthly. The show is inspired in part by McCaffery's article, "Minding the Gap," which focuses on the skills gap between education and workforce, and the efforts to narrow that divide. The article is published in the September issue of Rhode Island Monthly.
Bridging the Divide: Fixing the Skills Gap in Rhode Island brings together the academic, private business, and government interests on one stage to frame the issues, explore solutions, and consider strategies and plans for remediation.
Panelists are (in alphabetical order):
Mario Bueno, Executive Director of Progreso Latino
Joe Devine, Partner of Bridge Technical Talent
Dr. Meghan Hughes, President of the Community College of Rhode Island
Scott Jensen, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training
The conversation was taped before a studio audience on September 21. In the final quarter hour of the program, panelists answered questions from audience members, or questions submitted in advance by email.
"We are committed to supporting efforts to create jobs for all Rhode Islanders and grow industries across many sectors," said Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. "Companies are saying they just cannot find people who are adequately prepared to fill their openings. If we are to have a strong economy tomorrow, we must invest in educating and training the workforce today. Discussions like this can point us in the right direction,” Mr. Steinberg said.
"We are delighted to have the support of the Rhode Island Foundation, and a partner in Rhode Island PBS, to enable us to bring critical issues like workforce development to the forefront," said John Palumbo, president and publisher of Rhode Island Monthly. "It is indeed an issue we all need to pay attention to as we, collectively as a state, strive to attract business and create jobs now and in our future."
"Televising important conversations like this one helps inform the public about issues that affect the economic growth and prosperity of all Rhode Islanders," said David W. Piccerelli, president of WSBE Rhode Island PBS. "Our role - our mission - is to be the educational platform in the community where awareness and questions are raised. That’s how remedies and policies are set in motion to address the issues in meaningful, effective ways."