18 Jul Growth of RIMTA Youth Boatbuilding Programs Illustrate Momentum in Workforce Development


RIMTA’s Youth Summer Boatbuilding Program for 14- to 16-year-olds started with one program; but this summer, this boatbuilding course has burgeoned to five programs run throughout the state.

That growth is a big jump, but it represents more than a statistic: it is a trend that illustrates the momentum RIMTA is gaining in their efforts to expose more young Rhode Islanders to the marine trades and cultivate our workforce.

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Students in the North Providence Youth Boatbuilding Program visit Sail Newport.

Support from Real Jobs Rhode Island and the Governor’s Workforce Board has given RIMTA and their educational partners the ability to build and refine this summer training program. Each summer program has a common foundation of skill and industry exposure; but each program is customized according to each instructor’s interests and strengths, as well as the resources available in the community.

Programs are being run this summer in North Providence (two programs), Newport, Bristol and Tiverton. Students are all getting a solid education in work readiness as they learn about the importance of showing up on time, gain experience in resume writing and interviewing skills, get schooled in safety, and become exposed to the marine trades and their options for post-secondary study.

Students in every program will build boats, and each craft being built by these young Rhode Islanders will be as different as the next.

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Newport students at graduation in 2016 sea-trial the 15-foot row boat they built.

In Bristol, under the direction of instructor Dan Shea of Bristol Boat Company, students are building a traditional Westport skiff using wood they source from Prudence Island. In North Providence — under the guidance of instructors Rich Torti, Matt Moniz, and volunteer Henry Marciano of City Sail – students are going high-tech and will build a 14-foot Zest racing dinghy with detachable wings.

In Newport, IYRS graduate Matt Gooding, working with former IYRS instructor Kevin McKiernan, will guide students as they build two prams from ZO Boats created by Aquidneck Custom Composites and Walworth Yacht Designs. Tiverton students will build an Eastport Pram kit boat, and instructor Jim Gauch – who has a strong engineering background — will incorporate lots of technical lessons. All these programs will conclude with August graduation ceremonies.


Summer students in Newport build toolboxes as part of their boatbuilding training.

Career & Technical Education (CTE) marine-trades programs integrated into our schools are a natural companion to these summer programs. Rhode Island is fortunate to have two such programs, in the Chariho Regional School District and Warwick Public Schools. But that could change.

Wendy Mackie, Brian Dursi and Jen Huber of RIMTA have worked closely with educational partners at Chariho, Coventry, North Providence, Tiverton and Warwick high schools toward getting technical standards for marine-trades CTE programs approved at the state level with the R.I. Department of Education. With that now in place, we expect to see more schools utilize the CTE standards and their associated funding. North Providence is currently developing their own program.

The ultimate goal is developing a solid path young Rhode Islanders can follow to become the kind of skilled employees that will define a well-trained labor force that can fuel our industry.  The progress made this summer with RIMTA’s Youth Boatbuilding Programs have brought us one step closer to realizing that vision.