Bill aims to expand maritime training at two-year colleges

The following is the text of a news release from U.S. Rep. Gene Green:

(WASHINGTON) — On Tuesday, Reps. Gene Green, D-Texas, and Rob Wittman, R-Va., introduced legislation 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.

“In our district, we have a surplus of maritime jobs and not enough people with the skills and training to fill them,” said 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.”

“A well-trained, skilled maritime work force is critical for our nation’s economy and national security,” said 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. Shipyards 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.”

“There are over 56,000 direct maritime-related jobs at the Port of Houston alone,” said Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas. “As the work force 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 work force 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-Calif. “Strengthening this work force is essential to maintaining our nation’s goods movement system and vital to our national defense.”

“We applaud Congressman Green and Congressman Wittman for filing this important legislation,” said Janiece Longoria, chairman of Port of Houston Authority. “Commerce is growing at the Port of Houston, which grows the jobs and economic benefits it provides to the national economy. It is imperative that our maritime work force also grow, be trained, and have the skills to meet the needs of the marketplace.”

“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 work force 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 Matthew Paxton, president of the Shipbuilders Council of America. “Empowering MarAd to recruit, train and develop the next generation of workers will provide a stable work force and ensure there is sufficient talent to build our commercial and military ships for decades to come.”

Click here to read the text of the bill.

By Professional Mariner Staff