WASHINGTON – WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Representatives Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Gene Green (D-TX) introduced legislation (H.R. 2286) intended to advance the capabilities of two-year community and technical colleges to assist the federal government and industry in securing the talent pipeline for domestic maritime industry jobs.
"A well-trained, skilled maritime workforce is critical for our nation's economy and national security," said Rep. Wittman. "Advancing the capabilities of community and technical colleges - such as Rappahannock and Tidewater Community College - to assist the federal government and industry in securing the talent pipeline for the domestic maritime industry will mean more shipbuilders and repairmen to sustain and expand trade and grow our Navy's Fleet. Ship yards in Virginia and around the country will benefit from the injection of workers our new centers of excellence will provide so that we remain a prosperous maritime nation."
“In our district we have a surplus of maritime jobs and not enough people with the skills and training to fill them,” said Rep. Green. “The industry is continuing to invest and grow along the Port of Houston, and we want to make sure that our constituents have the opportunity to take these high skilled jobs. This bipartisan legislation will help bridge the gap. It’s good for our local community, it’s good for our businesses, and it’s good for the American economy.”
The Co-Chairmen of the Congressional Ports Caucus, Rep. Ted Poe (TX) and Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA), both endorsed the legislation, touting its economic benefits.
“There are over 56,000 direct maritime related jobs at the Port of Houston alone,” said Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX). “As the workforce grows, students must be ready to enter the maritime industry with job ready skills. This legislation simply gives local community and technical colleges the resources to effectively prepare their students. As Co-Chairman of the PORTS Caucus, I recognize that this legislation takes an important step forward in ensuring future workforce growth for the Port of Houston and ports across the nation.”
“I am pleased to introduce the Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act with my colleagues to bolster our maritime industry, raise up our community and technical colleges, and empower students to find well-paying jobs in this critical sector of the American economy,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA). “Strengthening this workforce is essential to maintaining our nation’s goods movement system and vital to our national defense.”
Key industry leaders also backed the legislation, highlighting the urgent need to grow the maritime workforce.
“The Port of Virginia is handling record cargo volumes, and to meet the growth the port is investing in its terminals to increase the annual capacity by 1 million container units by 2020,” said Virginia Port Authority CEO and Executive Director John Reinhart. “The port and its related industry will need a skilled, educated and expanding workforce to complement this growth. This legislation is important because it would make additional resources available to programs like the Southeast Maritime and Transportation Center at Tidewater Community College to meet the demands of Virginia’s rapidly expanding maritime industry.”
"The recruitment and development of shipyard workers is critical to the future of the U.S. shipbuilding and repair industry," said President of the Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA), Matthew Paxton. "Empowering MARAD to recruit, train and develop the next generation of workers will provide a stable workforce and ensure there is sufficient talent to build our commercial and military ships for decades to come."
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.