Non-trade apprentice incentive bill passes Senate

Providence, RI – May 21, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The Rhode Island Senate has passed legislation that seeks to move apprenticeship training beyond typical building trades such as construction and plumbing and into more non-traditional sectors of the workforce and economy, such as manufacturing, information technology, design and management.

“With this legislation, Rhode Island would join a national trend toward utilizing a proven and effective training model – apprenticeships – for non-traditional job skills,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence).

The bill, 2015-S 0065, now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

The legislation adds language to Rhode Island statute relating to the Governor’s Workforce Board, relative to non-trade apprenticeship programs. The bill directs the Workforce Board to create a non-trade apprenticeship program and to annually award funding on a competitive basis to at least one new initiative.

Contingent upon annual appropriations, the bill directs the board to establish a wage reimbursement incentive for each apprentice enrolled in a non-trade program. The incentive, as proposed in the Majority Leader’s bill, would allow reimbursement for a participating business of up to 50 percent of actual wages paid to the apprentice, or $1,000, whichever is less. The maximum any one employer could receive within a 12-month period would be $5,000.

“There is broad agreement that apprentice programs are an outstanding training tool for employees and are very necessary in generating qualified, skilled workers,” said Majority Leader Ruggerio. “We need to make these very successful programs available in other fields, in new or innovative or growing industries that require highly skilled workers. We need to encourage companies in these non-traditional fields who might not be familiar with apprenticeships as a training mechanism in their industry.”

Providing a wage incentive, said the Majority Leader, should help encourage early adopters of non-trade apprenticeships and help the first generation of apprenticeships get up and running, further demonstrating the effectiveness of this kind of training model.

The legislation received support during committee hearings from the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and the Manufacturers Association. The bill is modeled after a successful, similar program in South Carolina.

Experiencing a shortage of skilled workers and no good way to train young people for the workforce, and at a time when apprenticeship programs were declining the U.S., South Carolina began the Apprenticeship Carolina program, which takes apprenticeships beyond the building trades to field like nursing, pharmacy and IT. The state provides a state tax credit for companies of $1,000 per year per apprentice for four years.

Co-sponsors of the Senate bill include Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), Sen. Paul W. Fogarty (D-Dist. 23, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield), Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence) an Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln).

A companion House bill, 2015-H 5229, sponsored by Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), is currently before the House Committee on Finance.

For more information, contact:
Greg Pare, Press Secretary for the Senate
State House Room 314
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 276-5558

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