Talent Dividend Work

Helping employers pay for talent-retaining paid internships

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A brand-new partnership between the Rhode Island Governor's Workforce Board and the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) was announced in March. The Work Immersion Program will subsidize employers that offer paid internships to post-secondary students and unemployed adults up to 200 hours in a 10-week period. The program is built into the governor's budget with $1 million in funding for 2013 and $2 million for 2014. 
A study conducted in 2011 by bRIdge, Rhode Island's Talent Retention Program, in collaboration with the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island, surveyed 10,000 students across all of the institutions in the state in an effort to learn how the state can improve its retention rate of graduating students (a large number of whom come from out of state). Survey results indicated that a key element in driving retention was to place students in internships with local employers. Of the students who had never had an internship with a local employer, only 12% stayed in the state. That percentage jumped to 31% among those who did go through an internship program.
The governor's Work Immersion Program would subsidize employers 50% of their costs of paid internships for current students and recent graduates, and 75% if the person is hired permanently at the completion of their work immersion.
A second program being rolled out in tandem with the Work Immersion Program is the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) Loan Forgiveness Program. This program will allow forgiveness of loans for people who take unpaid internships (because some employers simply cannot afford to offer paid internship programs). This also helps encourage students to pursue internships and reduce student loan debt. This program is also supported by bRIdge.

Writer: Nicole Rupersburg
Source: Adam Leonard, Program Manager, Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island
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