Taveras's Training Rhode Island would address skills gap

Gubernatorial candidate Angel Taveras outlines a skills training proposal at Hope Global in Cumberland, Tuesday, March 11, 2014.

There may be 50,000 unemployed people in Rhode Island, but there are 10,000 jobs available -- a half dozen of them at Hope Global in Cumberland.

"Openings we are struggling with are everything from information technology to accounting. We're right now looking at three or four engineering positions, as well as high-end manufacturing jobs of mechanics, our machine shops," President and CEO Cheryl Merchant said.

Merchant is on the Governor's Workforce Board and supports any effort to better train Rhode Islanders to take some of the skilled jobs she has open.

So Democratic candidate for governor and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras was welcomed to the company Tuesday to talk about his Training Rhode Island program, which would set up curriculum at the Community College of Rhode Island tailored to preparing employees for specific jobs.

"We need a dedicated program that can consistently match needs of employers with trained, motivated workers who want high quality jobs," Taveras said.

He figures to train just under 4,000 workers over four years at a cost of $4.3 million.

"While the program has the strong potential to eventually start paying for itself, it is small enough that we should be able to pay for it with some of the same budgeting efficiencies identified in our pre-K plan," Taveras said.

When asked if businesses should be expected to train their own workers in apprenticeship programs, he answered that businesses will be involved in setting up the training.

"Customized means someone wants something a certain way. So that means we are going to be working directly with businesses to make sure that we are addressing their needs," Taveras said.

Taveras said if his program does what it's intended to do, it will not only help businesses already in Rhode Island, but attract new ones.