Maine Congressman: Shipyards like BIW have serious labor issues

Assistant Secretary of Defense Kathleen H. Hicks, Senator Angus King and Representative Jared Golden visited the Bath Iron Works shipyard where they toured the manufacturing facilities and met with shipbuilders in Bath, Maine, on 7 July 2021. DOD / US Air Force Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders

ARLINGTON, Virginia – Shipyards are struggling to attract or train skilled workers to build and maintain U.S. Navy ships, said a congressman from Maine.

“We have serious workforce challenges similar to the rest of the country, both inside and outside the military-industrial base,” said Representative Jared Golden, D-Maine, s ‘voicing September 2 during a Hudson Institute webinar. In general, the manufacturing workforce is in decline.

Maine is home to two major shipyards that build or maintain US Navy ships: General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Bath and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery.

“We have seen in Maine a decline in population accompanied by a change in the way we have oriented young people towards work and study, so that an entire generation has been encouraged to pursue college degrees from four to four. years, ”Golden said. “We’ve seen a lot of people leave the state of Maine for these types of opportunities, without necessarily coming back, while at the same time the best jobs we have in the state of Maine [are] at Bath Iron Works or at several of our paper mills. These are very manual and hands-on jobs that historically don’t require a four-year degree, but require solid skills that have been allowed to fade and be lost. ”

Golden said Bath Iron Works “doesn’t just have an aging workforce that is retiring or retiring at a fairly rapid rate, hiring thousands each year just to try and keep up. They grow taller. slowly, but they have to start from scratch with a lot of these young workers and teach them the basics of shipbuilding, be it welding or otherwise. It’s a different workforce challenge than other generations gone by. . ”

The congressman spoke of Maine’s community college programs, apprenticeship programs or pre-apprenticeship programs “that are going to help people get their foot in the door to eventually get a great job opportunity in a location. like Bath Iron Works “.

Golden said it “takes an average of seven years to find a fully competent, specialist shipbuilder in a place like Bath Iron Works. It’s a big investment you’re going to make.

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