PROVIDENCE – U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI) today met with recent graduates of the federally-funded Stepping Up partnership between the United Nurses and Allied Professionals (UNAP) and the Rhode Island Hospital Education Fund to discuss their experience and outline a package of five bills in the U.S. House that would expand workforce training opportunities in Rhode Island, and help get Rhode Islanders back to work.
“A good job is about much more than a weekly paycheck – it’s about honoring hard work with the dignity that every Rhode Islander deserves. We have made a lot of progress over the past few years, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Cicilline. “We can’t let up until every Rhode Islander has the opportunity not just to make ends meet, but to get ahead. If you’re willing to work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to provide for your family, buy a home, save for retirement, and give your kids a better life than the one you had. This has been the great American tradition.”
During Thursday’s discussion, Cicilline outlined a package of five workforce training bills that he has introduced or co-sponsored to help more Rhode Islanders get back to work:
· Cicilline’s bipartisan Make it in America Manufacturing Act expands new opportunities for Rhode Island to compete for federal funding through the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership. Authorizing this initiative permanently will ensure Rhode Island can apply for a “manufacturing community” designation that enhances its ability to leverage federal funding to expand advanced manufacturing and create good-paying, middle class jobs.
· The Bridge to Manufacturing Act ensures that Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers around the country, including Polaris MEP in Providence, can compete for funds to develop and implement apprenticeship and internship programs in their regions. Polaris has been a critical partner in the non-profit community for the last 20 years by providing one-on-one consulting, in-house training, and critical funding to support economic growth, technological innovation, facilities planning, and workforce training in Rhode Island.
· The Manufacturing Jobs for Veterans Act accelerates skills training for U.S. veterans in manufacturing, ensure they can translate the skills they learned in the military to the civilian workforce, and encourage manufacturers to recruit and hire them. In addition, it provides $50 million over five years to strengthen job training, apprenticeships, and certification classes for those who have served.
· The Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act ensures that more Rhode Islanders can pursue a career in nursing. By 2022, Rhode Island’s health care and social assistance sector is expected to account for nearly one out of every six new jobs created. This proposal bolsters nursing education at all levels, from entry-level preparation through graduate study, and provides support for institutions that educate nurses for practice in medically underserved communities.
· The Trade Adjustment Assistance Act reauthorizes funding to provide new job training and placement for workers whose jobs were shipped overseas as a result of a bad trade deal. During the NAFTA-WTO period, Rhode Island lost nearly 42,000 manufacturing jobs.
Cicilline took office during the Great Recession with Rhode Island’s unemployment rate hovering at 11.2% – then the fifth-highest in the country. Since then, the unemployment rate has been cut to 5.5% and roughly 20,000 new jobs have been created. In the months ahead, it is critical that Rhode Island continue building on this progress and ensuring that more Rhode Islanders have the job training they need to compete for the two-thirds of job opportunities that will require education or training beyond high school over the next four years.
Cicilline plans to continue advocating for this legislative agenda when Congress returns to session next Tuesday, September 6th.