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8/15/2016 Non-trade apprentice incentive bill signed into law
STATE HOUSE – Newly signed legislation sponsored by House Deputy Majority Whip Christopher R. Blazejewski and Senate Majority Leader Dominick J. Ruggerio seeks to move apprenticeship training beyond typical building trades such as construction and plumbing and into more nontraditional 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 nontraditional job skills,” said Senate Majority Leader  Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, Providence, North Providence). “There is broad agreement that apprentice programs are an outstanding training tool for employees and are very necessary in generating qualified, skilled workers. 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 nontraditional fields who might not be familiar with apprenticeships as a training mechanism in their industry.”       

Said Deputy Majority Whip Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), “Advancing the development of innovative training programs is one more way we can help cultivate Rhode Island’s workforce, providing Rhode Islanders with the specialized skills they need to land the best jobs of today and tomorrow. Creating new mechanisms that help companies train employees will also make Rhode Island more attractive to businesses interested in expanding or locating here, encouraging job creation that benefits our residents.”

The legislation (2016-H 7097A2016-S-2069A), which Gov. Gina M. Raimondo signed Thursday, adds language to Rhode Island statute relating to the Governor’s Workforce Board, relative to nontrade apprenticeship programs. The bill directs the Workforce Board to create a nontrade 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 nontrade program. The incentive 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.

The sponsors believe a wage incentive will help encourage early adopters of nontrade apprenticeships and help the first generation of apprenticeships get up and running, further demonstrating the effectiveness of this kind of training model.

The legislation was supported by the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association.

It was 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 United States, 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.

Cosponsors include Rep. Scott A. Slater (D-Dist. 10, Providence), Rep. Carlos E. Tobon (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket), Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket), Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist. 63, East Providence), President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown), Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), Sen. Michael J. McCaffrey (D-Dist. 29, Warwick) and Sen. Daniel Da Ponte (D-Dist. 14, East Providence).

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923