By Christian Winthrop
Governor Gina M. Raimondo and Electric Boat (EB) today unveiled a strategic workforce plan aimed at addressing long-term hiring opportunities at Quonset Point. EB’s Rhode Island facility currently employs 3,500 workers, and the company expects to employ more than 5,500 workers by the end of the 2020s.
“A year ago, I promised our Congressional Delegation that my administration would move decisively to fulfill Electric Boat’s hiring needs,” Raimondo said. “To compete in the 21st century economy, we need to invest in the skills that businesses need. This plan provides a reliable pipeline of talent to help EB meet its commitments to the U.S. Navy, and it puts thousands of Rhode Islanders to work in well-paying jobs. We’re grateful for EB’s partnership over the past months in arriving at this moment, and we look forward to delivering for EB in the months and years ahead.”
In May, Raimondo and state education leaders announced a pre-employment partnership through which EB is opening welding, ship-fitting, machining, and manufacturing programs at six sites this fall for a total enrollment over the next two years of about 200 students. Additionally, Raimondo’s central job-training program, Real Jobs RI, awarded a grant of $369,500 to the Pipelines to Manufacturing Careers in Shipbuilding, a sector partnership led by EB.
The workforce plan unveiled today builds on the Real Jobs RI partnership and RIDE’s work developing career and technical training by:
• Adding post-employment training for submarine maritime trades at “finishing schools” such as New England Tech and, starting in January 2017, the new Westerly Higher Education and Job Skills Center
• Increasing capacity at New England Tech by expanding the Ship Building and Advance Manufacturing Institute (SAMI) from its current Post Road location to its Access Road Campus also in Warwick
• Establishing a partnership between CCRI’s Westerly Satellite Campus and the new skills center to offer training in maritime sheet metal, pipefitting, and electrical programs
Additionally, through a pilot post-employment training model that began in May, candidates who qualify can be placed on EB’s payroll before receiving technical training at New England Tech or CCRI.
“This work is vitally important to meeting our national security needs and to strengthening our economy. This workforce development model will also serve as a blueprint for how a more demand-driven workforce development system can achieve results for employers and employees. This is truly a collaborative effort, and I will continue doing my part to make strategic investments to ensure Rhode Island is a high-tech hub of undersea technologies now and in the foreseeable future,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who helped include $5 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program and $1.5 billion for the Ohio-class submarine replacement program in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“Thanks to great work led by Senator Reed and Congressman Langevin, Electric Boat’s Quonset workforce is growing, and we want Rhode Islanders to be hired,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “This workforce development program will give Rhode Islanders the training to be competitive for those good-paying jobs. I commend Governor Raimondo for bringing together the private and public sectors to come up with this smart, demand-driven solution.” “More good-paying jobs are on the horizon at Electric Boat, and we must ensure that we have the appropriate training in place so that Rhode Islanders can seize these competitive opportunities,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “I co-chair the Career and Technical Education Caucus and serve as a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, so I am excited to see this nexus of workforce development programming and our state’s strong defense industry. It’s a win for our workforce, for our overall economy, for Quonset Point and for national security.”
“Electric Boat is already one of the largest employers in Rhode Island, with 3,500 employees,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “It’s critical that we work together at all levels of government to ensure that job-training and skill development programs are preparing Rhode Islanders for available, good-paying jobs. Governor Raimondo’s plan to ensure 2,000 students graduate with the skills necessary to meet the present and future hiring at Electric Boat will help put Rhode Islanders back to work. This innovative plan strengthens the relationship between Rhode Island and Electric Boat and will result in well-paying jobs for thousands more Rhode Islanders in a growing industry.”
“We applaud the governor and her administration for their foresight in establishing partnerships with businesses like Electric Boat, which will provide Rhode Islanders with the opportunity to develop valuable job skills in the advanced manufacturing sector,” said Maura Dunn, General Dynamics Electric Boat Vice President of Human Resources and Administration.