Rhode Island study finds industry labor shortage

NEWPORT, R.I. – A study canvassing Rhode Island’s marine industry tallies a 10 percent job vacancy rate in the sector for the state, with growing job opportunities in the future, the International Yacht Restoration School said in a press release Wednesday.

The Marine Trades in Rhode Island: A Skills Gap Analysis (2008) was conducted for the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association, back with funding from the Governor’s Workforce Board RI.

The study found the state’s industry includes more than 2,300 marine-related businesses accounting for $1.6 billion in sales. The industry now provides 6,600 jobs, but that workforce will need to grow 36 percent over the next five to 10 years to meet the current and anticipated demand for marine workers.

“This study defines the industry in concrete terms as a dynamic hub of business in Rhode Island, with boat builders, sailmakers, marinas and boat yards, woodworking shops, charter outfits, sailing schools, and other types of firms,” said Susan Daly, vice president of marketing for IYRS. “The industry is traditionally challenged to find people with the right combination of skills and interest to work in the field, but that signals an opportunity to those who are considering a marine career or looking at how to transfer their skills to the business of boating.”

A Statistical Snapshot: The Marine Industry in Rhode Island

  • The industry provides 6,600 jobs that pay a total of $260 million in income to Rhode Island workers.
  • The average salary in this sector ($39,400) exceeds the average pay for all industries in the state ($38,100).
  • The average age of workers in Rhode Island’s marine trades is higher than the state average for all workers. More than 600 new employees will be needed to replace those likely to retire over the next decade.
  • The average job vacancy rate within the marine trades business is 10 percent. The highest sectors are boatbuilding (17 percent) and boat service/repair (14 percent).
  • The skills areas identified as being in highest demand are engine repair, followed by electronics, computers and woodworking.
  • A total of 2,400 workers will need to be trained over the next five to ten years to meet the current and anticipated future employment needs of the state’s small to medium-sized marine-related businesses.
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