PROVIDENCE, RI- Governor Gina M. Raimondo today joined Senator Jack Reed, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT), the Associated General Contractors of Rhode Island, Construction Industries of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades to announce a new commercial construction initiative through Real Jobs Rhode Island.
"Thanks to major investments we've made to repair our crumbling infrastructure and school buildings, Rhode Island's commercial construction workforce is growing at an unprecedented rate," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "Our new initiative with Real Jobs Rhode Island will create a pipeline of skilled Rhode Island workers to fill the good, family-supporting jobs we're creating. This announcement represents the best of what can happen when the private and public sectors come together."
This new initiative comes as the state is experiencing an unprecedented boom in the building and construction sectors, a result of a multi-billion-dollar projected investment in public infrastructure improvements over the next five years. Since the recession, employment in Rhode Island's construction sector has increased by 20 percent, and growth is expected to continue.
"In order to meet Rhode Island's infrastructure, economic, and environmental needs now and in the future, we need a strong construction industry and that means investing in people, education and training, and growing Rhode Island's construction trades," said US Senator Jack Reed. "The demand for commercial construction will continue to increase, and with it, wage and employment growth. So, we need to ensure we have a pipeline of skilled labor and a motivated workforce that can keep pace with demand and evolving trends."
By 2026, it is projected that construction jobs in the state will increase by 13.8%, with employers needing to fill 26,000 jobs. The new Real Jobs RI commercial construction initiative will not only meet the growing demand of the commercial construction industry but will ensure that Rhode Islanders have the skills they need to fill these high-wage, high-demand jobs of the 21st-century.
"Working with the rest of the delegation, we've brought significant federal investment to Rhode Island in recent years that has helped put the hardworking men and women of the building and construction trades to work repairing our infrastructure and getting new development underway," said US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "Credit also goes to Governor Raimondo for her strong focus on boosting the economy and creating good jobs."
State leaders and commercial construction industry stakeholders today celebrated the new Real Jobs RI commercial construction initiative as a significant step forward in bolstering the state's efforts to provide quality employment opportunities for Rhode Islanders and develop a stronger, more resilient economy.
In the coming months, DLT will convene stakeholders to identify employer demand and determine the best course of action for training commercial construction workers through Real Jobs RI.
"Governor Raimondo has brought real vision and focus to reimagining workforce development in our state, and this partnership will further her administration's efforts to put Rhode Islanders back to work and prepared to meet the challenges of today's economy," said Scott Duhamel, Secretary-Treasurer of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council.
"I am proud to be invited by Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training to participate in today's landmark event" said Stephen A. Cardi, II, President of Construction Industries of Rhode Island. "All of us at Construction Industries of Rhode Island look forward to lending our support - in whatever way we can - to help continue the momentum and success of the Real Jobs RI initiative."
"We need to raise the profile of construction as a profession, or we won't have enough skilled workers to fill the demand. In addition to providing wages and benefits well above many other careers, construction is a profession committed to safety, training, diversity and advancement. Ultimately, it will cost taxpayers and shareholders more to build commercial buildings if there is not an adequate workforce. Without an integrated effort including industry, labor, educators, government and community officials, we won't be able to recruit effectively, nor will we be able to leverage current training programs and new opportunities for funding," said John Sinnott, President of RI Associated General Contractors.
"Governor Raimondo understands that encouraging young adults to pursue careers in construction is the best to ensure more Rhode Islanders have long-term career opportunities with meaningful pay and benefits," said Stephen E. Sander, the chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. "We have long-advocated for new measures to develop the next generation of construction craft professionals, and today's announcement means that more people in the Ocean State will be enjoying a more prosperous, satisfying and comfortable future."