Growing Futures RI developed out of the Rhode Island Nursery and Landscape Association’s (RINLA) member businesses’ need to train and retain the next generation of natural resource industry professionals who will be charged with increasing the resiliency of our built and managed landscapes; protecting farmland, coastal, and urban infrastructure; designing and maintaining adaptable and regenerative landscapes; and feeding our community.
A 2015 survey revealed that the number one problem facing RINLA members is the lack of trained new entrants to the workforce and this labor gap was inhibiting company and industry growth and stability even while the demand for RINLA members’ goods and services is increasing (such as installation and maintenance of permeable pavement, tree pruning and care, design for stormwater runoff and management, planting coastal areas to minimize erosion).
At the same time, RINLA observed a rising generation of workers and career-changers inspired by environmental sustainability, seeking meaningful engaging work, and facing the burden of college debt. RINLA recognized that given the right introduction to the industry, strong mentorship, engaging training and a good job, these people could find their place within member companies and plant-based industry.
With funding from the Department of Labor and Training’s Real Jobs Rhode Island grant program and other funding sources, RINLA has developed Growing Futures programming, which includes a youth apprenticeship, development of a two-year degree at the Community College of Rhode Island and the first in the nation multi-employer Registered Apprenticeship program for agriculture and plant-based industry to facilitate win-win connections between employers seeking motivated workers and people seeking consequential, engaging livelihoods and careers.
Growing Futures RI’s vision is to cultivate, train and educate the next generation of natural resource professionals who will be charged with stewarding, protecting, and responding to a changing environment and feeding our community.
Growing Futures accomplishes this vision in the following ways:
- Train and engage a new generation of “green collar” industry professionals and leaders.
- Help member businesses meet increasing demand for plant-based industry products and services.
- Promote and unify industry standards.
- Provide connectivity to education, training, and certifications that ensure the necessary skills and standards needed by industry are met
- Launch careers that are good for people and the land they nurture.