PROVIDENCE – Rep. James R. Langevin, D-R.I., introduced a bill to encourage companies to keep retiring employees long enough to train the workers that will replace them.
The Retain Innovation and Manufacturing Excellence Act is a companion to legislation introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
“Rhode Island’s manufacturing workforce is aging, and as retirements increase, there are plenty of good, high-paying jobs available. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough younger workers with the skills needed to succeed in these positions,” said Langevin in a statement. “I applaud Sen. Whitehouse for taking the lead on this issue in the Senate.”
The Retain Innovation and Manufacturing Excellence Act would establish a pilot program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology allowing regional Manufacturing Extension Partnerships to offer workforce-training grants to local manufacturers.
The MEPs could then award funds to small manufacturers, allowing them to keep departing employees for up to 90 days to train others on how to do their jobs. The bill would authorize up to $10 million for the pilot program.
The initiative is supported by Christian Cowan, center director, Polaris MEP. He said the measure “provides new tools to address the skills gap.”
Dave Chenevert, president of the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association, calls the measure critical. “[RIMA] recently surveyed our members, and 35% to 90% of the employees of the responding companies are 55-plus of age,” he said.