Kittery, ME—U.S. Senator Susan Collins welcomed U.S. Department of Labor Secretary, Thomas E. Perez, to Maine today to see the success of the innovative workforce training programs located at two anchors of Maine’s economy: Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard.
Senator Collins greeted Secretary Perez this morning at the Portland International Jetport where she thanked him for spending the entire day in Maine and underscored their shared “commitment—indeed a passion—for making sure that Maine workers have the education, the skills, and the training that they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.” Senator Collins continued, “We are very proud of both of our shipyards and the work that they do for the Department of Defense. It’s absolutely essential to our national security.”
The innovative job training programs at Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard serve as models for the nation and are successfully developing the skilled and knowledgeable workforce required to sustain cutting-edge work at BIW and PNSY. These programs are helping to close the skills gap and prepare a new generation of workers for the 21st century economy.
Senator Collins was a strong supporter of the Work Force Innovation and Opportunity Act that was also championed by Secretary Perez. This bipartisan legislation was signed into law in June of 2014 and brought the first major reform and modernization to federal job-training programs in 15 years.
Recent data shows that about one-third of the increase in unemployment among college-educated workers in the United States from 2006 through 2010 was the result of workers not having the right skills for the positions available.
Bath Iron Works
This morning, Senator Collins and Secretary Perez toured Bath Iron Works and saw the collaborative workforce training center that involves that shipyard, the unions, and Southern Maine Community College.
“Bath Iron Works is the major producer of destroyers for the US Navy and is the best private shipyard in the world,” stated Senator Collins.
BIW is currently building the Navy’s new Zumwalt-class destroyer, the most advanced warship in the world.
Portsmouth Naval Shipyard
Click here for a high resolution photo of Senator Collins and Secretary Perez at PNSY
In the afternoon, Senator Collins and Secretary Perez toured the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery to see the strong results of its rigorous and robust apprenticeship program.
“The public yard in Kittery is one of only four remaining public naval shipyards and it is renowned for its skilled workforce…Each year I have had to fight hard for funding and authorization in the defense appropriations bill to ensure that the apprenticeship program in Kittery keeps going,” stated Senator Collins.