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Courtney Welcomes U.S. Secretaries Walsh and Raimondo to Groton to See Positive Impact of Eastern CT Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative As American Jobs Plan ramps up, the Cabinet Members saw strength of CT’s manufacturing workforce

May 4, 2021
Press Release

GROTON, CT—Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) helped welcome U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh to General Dynamics Electric Boat (EB) in Groton to see firsthand how federal registered apprenticeship programs have strengthened eastern Connecticut’s manufacturing workforce, preparing them to take on exciting new opportunities now and in the years ahead. Courtney and the Cabinet Secretaries were hosted by EB President Kevin Graney, and were joined by Governor Ned Lamont, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Reps. John Larson (CT-01) and Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), RDML Rick Seif (Commander, Undersea War Fighting Development Center), Connecticut Department of Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby, Mayor Mike Passero of New London, local stakeholders, and more. Between an uptick in U.S. Navy shipbuilding, the advancement of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, and major new developments in the offshore wind and clean energy manufacturing sector, today’s visit proved especially timely as eastern Connecticut is particularly well-positioned to capitalize on upcoming economic opportunities.

Together, the group received a tour of the busy shipyard and discussed how EB has utilized federal registered apprenticeship programs—like the Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative (MPI)—to help train and grow their workforce. Successful registered apprenticeship programs like the MPI have enabled EB to take on major new project awards, from the historic $22.2 billion Block V multi-year procurement contract, to construction of the fully restored 2021 Virginia-class submarine, to the next-generation Columbia-class submarine program, and more. In addition to serving as Chairman of House Seapower Subcommittee, which oversees all U.S. Navy shipbuilding, Courtney is also a senior Member of the House Education and Labor Committee, which has jurisdiction over many workforce development efforts. Courtney helped kickstart EWIB’s MPI in 2015 by securing the initial $6 million federal grant that launched the program, and has recently worked across the aisle to advance legislation to reinvest in and greatly expand federal registered apprenticeship programs.  

“Eastern Connecticut’s manufacturing workforce is already taking on some of today’s biggest opportunities, and today’s visit from the Cabinet Secretaries couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Congressman Courtney. “President Biden’s American Jobs Plan includes some exciting goals, but to accomplish them we’re going to need an American manufacturing workforce that’s robust, highly skilled, and highly educated. Not only do we have that here in eastern Connecticut, we’ve also got the recipe to keep it growing through apprenticeship programs like our award-winning Manufacturing Pipeline. That’s what Secretary Raimondo and Secretary Walsh saw today, and it’s why our region is primed to keep scoring big wins as the American Jobs Plan moves forward, and as U.S. national security continues to pivot towards the Indo-Pacific.”

“Eastern Connecticut is the birthplace of the federal Registered Apprenticeship Program,” Courtney continued, “which was established by the 1937 Fitzgerald Act, a bill named after its sponsor—the former Congressman William Fitzgerald, from Norwich, CT. Electric Boat has benefited greatly from Fitzgerald Act programs like the Manufacturing Pipeline, and now—with President Biden’s Jobs Plan and a House of Representatives leading the push to reauthorize the Fitzgerald Act for the modern era—our region is prepared to capitalize even further. I was proud to welcome Secretary Walsh and Secretary Raimondo to Groton today to see the hard work of our manufacturing and the success of our MPI paying dividends, and we’re ready to keep the good work going as we help prepare eastern Connecticut’s manufacturing sector for even more job opportunities in the months ahead.”

Courtney has worked closely with regional stakeholders like the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board (EWIB) for years to help strengthen the region’s manufacturing workforce. EWIB has been instrumental in preparing the region’s workforce to take on new opportunities from shipbuilding, to emerging jobs in the offshore wind industry, to heavy machinery manufacturing, and more. EWIB’s MPI was established to identify underemployed adults, veterans, and others to contribute to the manufacturing and submarine supply-chain industries. As of 2020, the MPI has exceeded all goals and expectations—the federal registered apprenticeship program has placed over 1,700 people in jobs, including 447 at EB. In 2019, the MPI received national recognition as an award-winning job training skills program from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

As a senior Member of the House Education and Labor Committee, Courtney has helped lead the effort to reinvest in and reauthorize federal registered apprenticeship programs like the MPI for the first time in nearly 85 years. On February 5th, Courtney helped pass H.R. 447, the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 with strong bipartisan support. The bill would authorize more than $3.5 billion to create one million new apprenticeship opportunities over the next five years, and would make historic investments in workforce training to counter the sharp rise in unemployment due to the pandemic. The National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 would expand access to Registered Apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeship programs. It would also yield a projected $10.6 billion in net benefits to U.S. taxpayers in the form of increased tax revenue and decreased spending on public-assistance programs and unemployment insurance.

Eastern Connecticut has a special place in the successful history of federally registered apprenticeship programs, and is prepared to claim an important role in its future. The original bill that established a system of federally registered, “earn as you learn” apprenticeships—the National Apprenticeship Act of 1937, also known as the “Fitzgerald Act”—was introduced by Rep. Courtney’s predecessor, Congressman William Fitzgerald of Norwich, CT. The National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 (H.R. 447) would build on the successful model of Fitzgerald’s registered apprenticeship program, creating one million new apprenticeship opportunities over the next five years.

For a fact sheet on the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021, click here