by Tessa Roy
Rhode Island government officials united Thursday to celebrate the opening of Warwick’s new Marine Trades program. Mayor Scott Avedisian, Senator Mike McCaffrey, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Jack Reed, Representative Jim Langevin, Governor Gina Raimondo and members of Warwick’s City Council, School Committee, and school administration all appeared at Toll Gate High School to voice their support for the program.
“Warwick is proud to showcase our new Marine Trades CTE program, which already is offering an engaging, hands-on and directly relevant education to motivated students who will soon help Rhode Island meet the hiring needs of Electric Boat as well as marinas, boat builders and other maritime-related employers in Warwick and throughout the state,” Avedisian said.
The Warwick Area Career and Technical Center’s expanded Marine Trades CTE program now has five state-of-the-art welding booths, a curriculum approved by the American Boat and Yacht Council and National Center for Construction Education and Research, and new textbooks. It currently serves 30 students, 22 from Warwick and eight from West Warwick, and is open to public high school students from around the state.
General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) is a partner in the program.
Sean Davies, General Dynamics Electric Boat Vice President – Quonset Point Operations said the program will provide EB with educated, motivated employees with the necessary skills to perform effectively at their jobs.
“We are proud to take part in this innovative effort, which represents the active roles Rhode Island, local school systems and industry are taking to build the educated work force required to compete and succeed in the 21st century,” he said.
Langevin agreed, saying EB would be helpful to students as well.
“Working with EB, students are going to be able to experience firsthand the opportunities that really do awaken right here in Rhode Island,” he said. “Graduates of this program will be able to identify the right path not just for a job, but for a career.”
Marine Trades instructor Christopher Bianco said the new Toll Gate location is beneficial since it is right next to the Career and Tech Center. Before, recruiting might have been difficult for them with students having to travel across the city on buses when they did their assessments, but now they are much closer.
Bianco said Toll Gate administration and Superintendent Philip Thornton have been supportive as the program transitioned from its former location at Warwick Vets.
“They’re behind us 100 percent. Basically whatever we’ve needed to make ourselves successful, they’ve been able to come forward and give it to us,” he said.
Thornton called Bianco “inspiring and tireless” and said he was proud to have the program expanding here in Warwick.
Raimondo’s central job-training initiative, Real Jobs Rhode Island, awarded a grant of $369,500 to an EB-led maritime sector partnership that helped fund Warwick’s new Marine Trades module. In addition, all levels of government, several funding streams, and other public and private educational partners have supported the new Warwick Marine Trades CTE program. These include $70,000 from The City of Warwick: $70,000, a $115,000 competitive grant from the Rhode Island Department of Education, $50,000 in Perkins Act funding from the U.S. Department of Education (This funding has been spread out over several years. Not all $50,000 has been spent just this year on just this project), and approximately $5,000 for Marine Trades textbooks (NCCER’s formal Marine Trades curriculum) from the U.S. Department of Labor – Real Jobs RI.
The Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, University of Rhode Island, and New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) all have contributed to and have roles in implementing RI’s strategic workforce plan for EB. In addition, instructors in the ship-fitting programs have received training from NEIT’s Shipbuilding Marine Trades and Advanced Manufacturing Institute, also in Warwick. All instructors have been certified in Maritime Trades from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (US Department of Labor).
Governor Raimondo thanked those on all levels that worked on the program and said it would change lives.
“We’re all in for you guys. Your success is Rhode Island’s success, and your future is Rhode Island’s future,” she said.