Celebrating a New Class of Shipbuilders, and Continued Investment in Our Growing Workforce

Last Thursday, we celebrated 64 carpenters, metal workers, and other shipbuilders who successfully completed Electric Boat’s 2-year apprenticeship program. These sorts of careers are in high demand right now, and these men and women worked hard and gained the skills necessary to go after them. The jobs they’re taking on are critical to the U.S. Navy, and they also provide a great way of life for workers and their families. 

Between the increasing demand signal for submarines and the steady shipbuilding and workforce development resources being provided by Congress, there are more and more openings popping up at Electric Boat. After adding 3,700 new employees in 2022, EB announced this week that they are seeking to hire 5,750 new employees in 2023 alone. That uptick comes through a continued 2-per-year build rate on Virginia-class submarines and construction of the first two Columbia-class submarines. My work in Congress to jump-start both shipbuilding programs started all the way back in 2008, and now, it’s a top priority of mine to boost support for apprenticeship programs and workforce development to meet the demand and create opportunities.
At last week's EB Apprenticeship graduation ceremony Rep. Courtney was joined by members of Electric Boat including Kevin Graney (President), James Gildart (VP of Groton Operations), Chad Babcock (MDA President of the Apprentice Alumni Association), Emil Casciano (VP of Nuclear Ops and Fleet Support), Mike Bibalo (Apprentice School Representative), union representatives William Louis (MDA Union), Pete Baker (MTC Union), and Paul Jarry (Carpenter Union) and 64 graduates from the apprenticeship program
In my work on the House Armed Services Committee and House Education and Workforce Committee, we’ve secured significant increases in federal funding for workforce development efforts in eastern Connecticut. One of the key programs connecting people to careers in shipbuilding is the Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative (MPI) – which is operated by the Eastern CT Workforce Investment Board (EWIB). In 2023, EWIB anticipates it will operate with a budget of about $31 million, with nearly 60% of that going toward expanding MPI classes. Of the $31 million, more than 70% is federal funding that we’ve provided in Congress, and $15.3 million of it comes straight from the American Rescue Plan, which Congress passed in 2021. Since I helped kick-start the MPI in 2015, it’s graduated over 2,700 workers and continues to grow, bringing training opportunities to people of all backgrounds and skill-levels in eastern Connecticut. 
EWIB projects a $31 million operating budget in 2023, more than 70% of which comes from federal funding
Increased submarine construction isn’t just creating opportunities at the shipyard—it’s fueling growth at hundreds of our local manufacturing suppliers all throughout eastern CT. They’re hiring on lots of skilled workers for new careers, and there’s also tons of new job opportunities in our region thanks to the activity we’re seeing in clean energy production, infrastructure development, and lots more. There's huge demand for a skilled workforce, and it’s been great to see EWIB working to match that demand by expanding their classes with federal funding. This year, EWIB’s MPI is projected to host 82 total training classes—their highest-ever number of classes, 40% more than last year, and a far cry from the number they have hosted dating back to 2017.
Increased demand for submarines, combined with steady federal investment in shipbuilding and workforce development, have led to this year’s record-breaking number of training classes being hosted by EWIB’s MPI.
The federal budget that was signed into law on December 29, 2022 included the biggest investment in job training, supply chain development, and expansion of shipyard facilities that I’ve ever seen during my time in Congress. Both the Navy and Congress have made it clear that those investments are going to continue, and I look forward to working with EB, management, labor, supply companies, and with EWIB to ensure that our thriving workforce ecosystem is sustained.