Both public and private shipyards are facing a loss of skilled workers, as many are retiring and there is a shortage of training programs. Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District has added language to the National Defense Authorization Act to try and address that problem.
“Public and private shipyards across the country are seeking to hire and increase shipbuilding workforce numbers where we are staring at a bit of a cliff in terms of pending retirements,” he says. “The companies that run them need to make some investments in their future workforce, but also the states that house them and the Navy, I think, should play a role as well, because we all know at the end of the day this is about protecting the health of the industrial base.”
Golden’s amendment requires the Navy to come up with a strategy to make sure the shipyards have the skilled workers they need to build and repair vessels for the Navy. He says both Bath Iron Works and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard will face a growing problem in coming years — like many occupations, skilled shipyard workers are retiring faster than new workers are being trained, which Golden says is a national security issue.
Golden says similar language is being pushed by independent U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine in the Senate version of the Defense Authorization bill.