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STEM Grant to Create Apprenticeship Program for High School Students

Funding Will Connect Students to College and Career at CCRI and CVS Health

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) announced today that Rhode Island is one of six states to be awarded a STEM apprenticeship grant from the U.S. Department of Education. This $500,000 grant will fund the launch of the Rhode Island Youth Apprenticeship Program, an apprenticeship program that starts during senior year, with more than 100 students statewide placed in apprenticeship positions in cybersecurity and data analysis by 2022.

Participating students will work with CVS Health as the lead employer to start, with the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) serving as the primary instruction provider.

“By 2024, Rhode Island employers will need to fill an estimated 9,000 openings in STEM careers. This is a growing industry in our state, and we need to make sure that employers have the talented workforce they need to be successful,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “This apprenticeship program, like the PrepareRI Internship Program, gives students hands-on learning opportunities and work experience they need to get a jumpstart on their future and compete for these jobs of tomorrow.”

Starting in the fall of 2019, participating students will spend half of their instructional time working on the job, and will also enroll in credit-bearing coursework through CCRI. The first year cohort will include 20 to 25 public high school seniors.

“Across the board, we are expanding opportunities for our students, from advanced coursework, to work-based learning, to college-access programs,” said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “The Rhode Island Youth Apprenticeship Program is an important addition to our portfolio of options because it will allow students to explore an exciting and growing career pathway in a deep, meaningful way that can directly lead to opportunities after graduation. We know that STEM careers are on the rise in Rhode Island and beyond, and our students will be better positioned for those opportunities thanks to this grant.”

As part of the program, CCRI will work with employer partners to match apprentices with internal corporate mentors to help provide an additional layer of guidance and support each apprentice’s advancement. Mentors will have the opportunity to attend a mentor training and will be asked to provide ongoing coaching and constructive feedback throughout the apprentice’s experience with the company.

"The widening skills gap in the U.S. is a significant business concern, and companies like CVS Health see apprenticeships, which offer on-the-job training combined with classroom instruction, as a viable solution to filling the need for highly-skilled workers," said Lisa Bisaccia, EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer for CVS Health. “Through this opportunity, we are able to build a pipeline of talented and diverse candidates for our company, while providing meaningful work and a defined career path for the apprentices.”

In total, students will have the opportunity to complete their high school diploma, and earn a Certificate of Apprenticeship Completion and up to 18 college credits from CCRI through the Running Start program at no cost to students or families, in addition to a year and a half’s worth of hands-on, work-based learning experience.

“CCRI is excited to expand our partnership with CVS Health with the launch of this STEM apprenticeship opportunity for our students. It is through innovative programming and a commitment to providing demand-driven skills training that we will prepare the next generation of Rhode Islanders for success in the digital economy of tomorrow,” said Julian Alssid, Vice President of Workforce Partnerships at CCRI.

Apprenticeship Rhode Island, which has designed the core components of apprenticeships across the state, will provide technical assistance to CCRI, helping them to create curriculum that is aligned to the needs of participating employers.

“Employers are always the driver of Apprenticeships programs –it is a model of private-sector workforce development, customized to meet specific workforce development needs,” said Andrew Cortés, Executive Director of Building Futures, home of the Apprenticeship RI initiative. “Now, new apprenticeships in STEM fields will ensure students can begin their career in emerging occupations during high school and seamlessly continue upon graduation.”

Over the three years of the grant, RIDE has set a goal of placing more than 100 students as apprentices by 2022. CCRI will likewise increase engagement on the employer side, recruiting at least two new participating employers during the life of the grant. For companies interested in participating in this program, they should reach out to Tekla Moquin, executive director of workforce partnerships at CCRI, at 401-333-7333.