Initiative Backed by $300,000 RIDLT Grant, Supported by Employer & Training Partners from Across the State
PROVIDENCE, RI – Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza today joined the City’s Economic Opportunity Director Brian Hull, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (RIDLT) Director Scott Jensen, and representatives from Workforce Solutions of Providence/Cranston, Care New England, Lifespan Corporation, and Genesis Center at the Simulation Center at Woman & Infants Hospital to announce PVD HealthWorks. The workforce partnership is made possible with a $300,000 Real Jobs RI grant from RIDLT and will strengthen Providence’s healthcare and social assistance workforce by connecting participants to workforce training, resources and employment opportunities.
“Healthcare is one of the largest industries in Rhode Island,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “This initiative will strengthen our workforce by providing pathways to good jobs for residents. This partnership will help us continue to provide economic opportunities for residents throughout our city.”
Real Jobs RI is a demand-driven, workforce and economic development initiative that convenes industry employers, key stakeholders and groups in allied partnerships to address business workforce demands. It is designed to ensure that Rhode Island employers have the talent they need to compete and grow while providing targeted education and skills training for Rhode Island workers.
“Real Jobs RI is showing that we can invest in workers and employers at the same time — because competitive companies employing workers who are on a solid pathway to middle-class wages are the keystones of a strong and resilient economy,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “With 81,000 workers and some of Rhode Island’s largest employers, healthcare is a critical component of our economy. I’m proud to partner with Mayor Elorza to help healthcare employers get the talent they need to grow and compete.”
The Healthcare and Social Assistance industry is one of the largest employment sectors in the State and is the largest employer within the City of Providence. The sector has been affected by a documented labor shortage as well as a growing mismatch between workforce preparedness and the changing skills that will be required as the healthcare sector adapts to changing demographics and service delivery. Healthcare employers from across Rhode Island have underscored a large number of open positions for many occupations, including medical assistants, direct support professionals, and pharmacy technicians.
“Real Jobs RI helps employers train the right workers for the right jobs at the right time and the PVD HealthWorks partnership has all of the workforce development pieces in place to do just that for the healthcare sector of our capital city,” said DLT Director Scott Jensen. “Governor Raimondo and I are excited to work alongside Mayor Elorza and the employers of Rhode Island’s biggest sector to strategically connect partners around shared needs and match skilled healthcare and social assistance professionals with employers looking for top talent.”
There are additional challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified candidates, especially diverse, bi-cultural and bi-lingual. The City has convened a collaboration of eight employer partners and eight community partners to develop the infrastructure necessary to understand the workforce needs of the employers and create strategic pipelines to generate a supply of highly qualified candidates for high demand positions.
PVD HealthWorks will strategically connect partners around shared needs and actively foster system solutions. It will create a unified intake and assessment process and toolbox for job seekers and will realize the hiring of a dedicated specialist with expertise in healthcare industries to partner with employers and training providers to increase participant recruitment and job placement. An online pre-registration portal will also be launched to allow job seekers to pre-register for job fairs, providing employers the ability to pre-screen applicants and identify potential employees more efficiently.
“We are eager to support workforce development in the City of Providence by collaborating to create a training pipeline for health care providers driven by industry demand,” said Jody Jencks, director of workforce development for Care New England. “We understand the need for a demand-driven, employer-led system that elevates the skills of the workforce while adapting to employer needs.”
Insight from training partners and a survey of medical assistant training programs in the state and near the Massachusetts border also revealed that that there is a wide variance in the skills and knowledge taught by different programs, resulting in candidates lacking key competencies for open positions. Employers are seeking a greater level of consistency and quality through this initiative.
“This is the type of program we have been waiting for! PVD Healthworks is one more step in the right direction for workforce development,” said Shannon Carroll, Genesis Center President and Chief Executive Officer. “We need a coordinated system to create clear career pathways and opportunities for our residents. As a Real Pathways provider, we are now able to purposely and effectively link our existing healthcare training programs to higher level trainings that will allow our learners to progress on their career paths and access higher wage jobs while also providing employers with the candidates they need. I am confident PVD Healthworks will help accomplish this and make Rhode Island stronger.”
The partnership will match qualified professionals with employers facing workforce hiring challenges. The first phase of the program funds three cohorts of Direct Support and one cohort of Medical Assistant training for a total of 65 newly trained healthcare workers. Curricula for these training programs will align with employer defined needs and the partnership will invest in the development of additional training modules to address common skill gaps.
Additional PVD HealthWorks partners include First Source Providence, CVS Health, Providence Community Health Center, Groden Network, ReFocus, CareLink, Comprehensive Community Action Program, Rhode Island College—Institute for Education in Healthcare, Apprenticeship RI, Community College of Rhode Island, Skills for Rhode Island’s Future, RI Nurses Institute Middle College, and Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce. The partnership will continue to engage new employer partners and convene stakeholders in various ways to identify workforce needs and solutions in the healthcare sector.