- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

CUMBERLAND, R.I. (AP) - Democratic gubernatorial hopeful and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras on Tuesday unveiled a plan to address the “skills gap” that aims to train up to 3,750 workers over four years.

The “Training Rhode Island” plan calls for a specialized curriculum developed by the Community College of Rhode Island and businesses or groups of businesses with similar training needs.

Taveras said there is “nothing worse” than businesses having open jobs they cannot fill because workers don’t have the necessary skills. There are some 50,000 unemployed Rhode Islanders, but 10,000 open positions, he said. The jobless rate in January was 9.2 percent.

Under the Taveras plan, employers would work with CCRI on a training program for prospective employees that would include an online video component, classroom learning and on-site instruction.

The program would grow from 250 slots at a cost of $400,000 in year one to 2,000 slots at a cost of $2.15 million in year four.

Taveras said the initial cost should be able to be covered by identifying “budgeting efficiencies,” including reduced overtime. The program should be able to pay for itself over time with estimated new revenue of $2.46 million by fiscal year 2020 from as many as 1,875 newly created jobs, he said.

“This is a way to remove an obstacle and make it easier to grow,” he said. “This is part of making Rhode Island more attractive to employers.”

Taveras is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, along with General Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Clay Pell, grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell. Gov. Lincoln Chafee is not seeking re-election.

Raimondo on Monday issued a plan to increase manufacturing jobs. It calls for the creation of so-called “innovation institutes” and would also tap into CCRI to provide more workforce training.

Taveras outlined his plan Tuesday at textile manufacturer Hope Global in Cumberland. President and CEO Cheryl Merchant said the company plans to double in size over the next five years and that she’s continually seeking workers with a range of skills, including IT, accounting and machine operation.

“That list is long,” she said.

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