Metro, News

PVD Healthworks initiative introduced

PVD Healthworks to connect healthcare employers to training programs, curricula

Contributing Writer
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A new initiative, called PVD Healthworks, will supply and strengthen the health care and social assistance workforce in Providence and Cranston. The initiative was introduced Oct. 20 at a press conference by Mayor Jorge Elorza alongside Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Director Scott Jensen, Providence Economic Opportunity Director Brian Hull, representatives from Workforce Solutions of Providence and Cranston and various health care providers. PVD Healthworks will be funded by a $300,000 grant from RIDLT and will join the department’s Real Jobs Rhode Island program.

PVD Healthworks is led by Jensen and Mielette McFarlane, grant adviser of Real Jobs RI. The initiative will connect employers in the health care industry with educational programs such as Rhode Island College, working together to create curriculums and conduct training based on the needs of the employers. The city of Providence will act as an intermediary, and this triad of partnership will supply the health care labor demand for the greater Rhode Island community. PVD Healthworks will work with the Genesis Center to train people to be direct support professionals, who work with people with physical disabilities, assisting them as they become integrated into the community and working environment. This training will be done through the Genesis Center.

Rhode Island’s most recent labor force statistics show that the health care and social assistance sector made up 80,900 of the 495,100 total jobs in the state, which means that over 16 percent of all Rhode Island jobs are related to health care and social assistance, the biggest sector in the labor force, according to an RIDLT press release. Though health care made up such a large portion of workers in the state, there is a significant labor shortage in the health care and social assistance industry, Jensen said. The health care sector is the state’s biggest employer, Jensen added. 

In addition to this labor shortage, there has been an observed mismatch between the skills the workforce is equipped with and the skills the health care sector requires as it evolves to accommodate changing demographics and service delivery, according to Elorza’s press release.

The PVD Healthworks partnership addresses this need for labor in the health care sector, MacFarlane said.

“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,” Elorza said at the press conference.

As a demand-driven workforce development program, Real Jobs RI brings together employers and other key stakeholders in an attempt to address workforce demands in various industries, simultaneously providing workers in the state with the adequate skills to address these demands, according to Michael Healey, chief public affairs officer and RIDLT.

“In 33 sector partnerships, 16 industries and more than 15 distinct skills-training programs across the state, (Real Jobs RI is) knitting together the demand side of the labor market … and investing in the competitiveness of both,”  Healey said .

Since Gov. Gina Raimondo created Real Jobs RI in 2015, over 200 companies have hired more than 900 workers trained by the program, and another 600 incumbent workers have been trained for future advancement, Healey said.

“Before Real Jobs RI, the state’s workforce development efforts were spread thin across many programs, funding streams and agencies,” Healey said. “This led to mismatches: People who completed the training programs didn’t have the skills employers really wanted. Consequently, … government had a credibility problem with Rhode Island employers.”

By giving companies the chance to collaborate with partners such as colleges, technical education programs and community-based organizations, Real Jobs RI directly matches people equipped with necessary skills with employers in need of these skills, according to a press release from Elorza’s office.

“The real framework for a successful Real Jobs RI partnership is that it is demand-driven, meaning that they (Real Jobs RI) are getting information (on) what the jobs are that are necessary to focus on, and they go and survey, having conversations with companies themselves,” McFarlane said.

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