Courtney Hosts Press Conference To Oppose Elimination Of Federal Apprenticeship Program Under The GOP Budget
WASHINGTON, DC --- Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) stood in Groton with Electric Boat, small business leaders, and local workers to condemn the partisan effort led by House Republicans to quash federal funding for apprenticeships. On Wednesday, Republicans passed the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-H) budget through an Appropriations Committee, which cut all apprenticeship program grant funding from the federal budget for FY2018 cutting all $95 million approved for the program in FY2017.
“Back in February, America’s manufacturing employers told the White House if you want to fix the economy then fix the skills gap. A newspaper headline the following morning said it in a nutshell: ‘jobs exist; skills don’t’,” said Courtney. “The GOP budget passed out of committee last Wednesday willfully ignores that message by eliminating and or butchering job training programs that have a proven track record of success.
“For Connecticut, these cuts to apprenticeships programs could not come at a worse time. Our state is finally experiencing job growth and new opportunities are being created through increased investment in aerospace, shipbuilding, and healthcare - all of which require a high-skilled workforce.
“As we heard today, the apprenticeship program at Electric Boat that was launched with federal funds in January has already resulted in 600 new hires. It is likely that these workers would have likely been shut out of good paying jobs in metal trades and design work without the opportunity for an apprenticeship. Rather than cut these programs, which the partisan budget did on Tuesday, Congress should be boosting investment in workforce training programs with a proven track record of success and with historic bipartisan support.
“The one thing we heard today from employers and workers alike is that better skills mean better wages and better jobs.”
Since 2015, the Connecticut Department of Labor has received three federal grants totaling over $7 million to jumpstart registered apprenticeship programs around the state. These programs are utilized in manufacturing, health care, insurance, and other sectors, and help to close the widely acknowledged skills gap.
In Connecticut, programs include “Building Pathways for Women,” an initiative that would help to bring more women into the manufacturing industry. In December 2016, federal grant funding helped to bring apprenticeships back to large employers like Electric Boat for the first time. The apprenticeship program, in conjunction with other federal workforce development programs, is helping to create the workforce needed to meet growing opportunities in southeastern Connecticut and throughout the state.
The event’s attendees included:
Rep. Joe Courtney
Commissioner Scott D. Jackson, Connecticut Department of Labor
Maura M. Dunn, Vice President Human Resources & Administration, General Dynamics Electric Boat
Metal Trades Council apprenticeship graduate
Kelli Vallieres, PhD, President- CEO Sound Manufacturing, President EAMA
Chris Jewel, Owner, Collins and Jewel