The Rhode Island Marine Trades Association received the 2016 Workforce Innovation Award from the Rhode Island Governor's Workforce Board.
Workforce board chairwoman Constance Howes made the presentation Thursday at the board’s annual meeting in Warwick, R.I.
“RIMTA has been, and remains, a staunch advocate for its members, an articulate voice for its industry and a workforce innovation powerhouse in the state of Rhode Island," Howes said in a statement.
Honored guests and speakers included Gov. Gina M. Raimondo, state Sen. Erin Lynch Prata and state Department of Labor and Training Director Scott Jensen.
In selecting RIMTA, the workforce board not only looked at the trade group’s accomplishments in workforce development, but also how they have strengthened an important business sector. In five years RIMTA has grown from an organization with 170 members and an annual budget of $170,000 to 280 members and a $1.3 million budget.
RIMTA training programs target the industry’s diverse workforce needs. They include a pre-apprenticeship training program that is an important pipeline for hands-on, entry-level workers; a summer marketing program that attracts millennials to the industry; and boatbuilding programs for youth at area high schools.
RIMTA said its programs for youth and college-age students not only attract younger career seekers, but also help the group and its members better understand what excites these young people about the boating experience — critical information for the future growth of the industry.
RIMTA spearheaded the founding of the Composites Alliance of Rhode Island, an organization conceived when U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse met with local industry to explore ways the sector could better market its capabilities, maximize its strengths and develop its workforce. RIMTA is also the owner and manager of the Providence Boat Show.
RIMTA CEO Wendy Mackie accepted the award and included in her thanks insights into the approach that drives everything that RIMTA does.
“Our innovation doesn’t stop at workforce development,” Mackie said in a statement. “The only way we can be effective is with a holistic approach — of educating our workforce, promoting the joys of recreational boating and our members’ achievements and advocating for our industry. We have a mantra that drives us, knowing that we need to be smarter and more efficient and always on a path to perfection.”