Community College and National Grid Collaborate On Job Training In Rhode Island

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Uses Rhode Island initiative to recognize Career & Technical Education Month and urge support of Obama proposal

Calling the program a model for workforce development in high-demand industries, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) recognized a job training partnership between the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) and National Grid and called on his colleagues to take a bipartisan approach toward supporting similar efforts nationwide. Langevin, who co-chairs the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, and his fellow co-chair, Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), both took to the House Floor today to commemorate February as Career and Technical Education Month.

As a result of the initiative at CCRI, students have the opportunity to earn a certificate in energy utility technology, which was specifically created to address the demand for a new generation of employees who can replace an aging workforce at Rhode Island’s primary provider of electricity and natural gas services. With grants and an investment from National Grid, CCRI, which has the facilities to offer a program for relatively low tuition, provides high-level math skills and uses state of the art equipment to prepare students. The company provides 64 hours of hands-on training at its facility. Upon completion, the students can become new employees.

“There are some partisan differences that this Congress perhaps cannot overcome, but the idea of multiplying this effort at our community colleges is a common sense goal if our goal is, in fact, to put Americans back to work,” said Langevin, who has led efforts to encourage better collaboration in Rhode Island, such as the Pathways to Prosperity Summit and the Cyber Foundations Competition.

To help replicate the type of program established by CCRI and National Grid, Langevin urged support for a proposal unveiled by President Obama this week, the Community College to Career Fund, that would help community colleges to partner with businesses and train workers in high-growth and in-demand fields. This effort would put more workers into quality jobs with wages that allow them to support their families without relying on a government safety net.

Full Transcript of Langevin’s Remarks:

Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize Career and Technical Education Month and I’m proud to be able to work with my colleague “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania. He and I co-chair the Career and Technical Education Caucus. In particular, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to address the importance of the initiative that President Obama announced recently to support partnerships between community colleges and expanding industries. It should be a bipartisan priority.

We hear a lot about the skills gap that we’re facing in this country. And business owners repeatedly tell me that they cannot fill openings because applicants lack necessary skills. We need better collaboration between the companies doing business and doing the hiring and the educators who are preparing our students. In my district, National Grid, the primary utility, and the Community College of Rhode Island offer a model program to prepare workers for available high-skill jobs. Through course work and hands-on training, students receive a certificate in energy utility technology and can then become new employees.

Unfortunately community colleges simply can’t afford enough of these programs. The President’s Community College to Career Fund is a small price to pay for the resulting benefit. It’s a worthwhile program and I believe that we need to support it.

Mr. Speaker, there are some partisan differences that this Congress perhaps cannot overcome, but the idea of multiplying this effort at our community colleges is a common sense goal if our goal is, in fact, to put Americans back to work.