By Jane Palmer, TAA Program Manager, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training
The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program faces challenges in reaching trade-affected workers across the country, and Rhode Island is no exception. When the Rhode Island Workforce Development Services Division committed to revamping its service delivery of the TAA Program earlier this year, we knew just where to look for inspiration – the State of Oregon.

Not only was Oregon willing to share its challenges, untapped resources and best practices with us, but the Oregon TAA Program Team was gracious enough to invite the Rhode Island team to attend an in-depth, on-site TAA program training. In August, the Oregon TAA Team, led by Program Manager Ricqué Smith, hosted a two-day TAA Presentation and Overview for Jane Palmer, TAA Program Manager for Rhode Island.

The peer-to-peer training surpassed our expectations and has proven to be an invaluable resource in our efforts to elevate the profile and impact of Rhode Island’s TAA Program. A testament to Ricqué’s effective leadership, her entire team was on-hand to present their models and processes for researching and filing petitions, providing services, engaging the employer community, analyzing data, reporting and forging partnerships. We learned from the ground-up how they innovated using resources to partner with other workforce programs and perform strategic outreach for the benefit of program awareness – which leads to both increased petition filing and On-the-Job Training (OJT) identification.

Most impressive, however, were the team members themselves; whose passion and dedication is unmatched. The work they do is strategic and effective, and they take ownership and pride in the TAA Program they helped develop. Each member of the team willingly shared with candor their best practices and “bumps” that they detected along the way, which Rhode Island greatly appreciated.
Oregon has a “Think Differently” motto when it comes to Trade and the TAA entitlement benefit for impacted workers – an extension of its deep commitment to changing the lives of Oregonians and their families. This mission, coupled with continuous and consistent messaging tactics highlighting the TAA Program’s services and benefits, continue to make a positive impact on the entire community.

We walked away from this training energized to revamp our state’s process, and since presenting the new model to our management team in Rhode Island, the momentum in our division has grown. We would like to thank the Oregon Team for the training that they provided, their willingness to continue as an open resource and most important, for setting Rhode Island on a path to “Think Differently.”