Kaine Brings Local Leaders Together To Discuss Workforce Needs And Opportunities As Navy Pursues 355-Ship Fleet
*View photos of the event HERE*
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined local workforce and economic development leaders to host a summit on how Hampton Roads can prepare to fill the Navy’s needs as it pursues, with additional funding, a 355-ship fleet within the next 20 years. Kaine gathered groups from across the region to discuss the needs and opportunities for the local workforce as the navy pursues a 355-ship fleet.
The event, called, “Building the Navy of the Future: Opportunities for Hampton Roads,” featured the Honorable James F. Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition as the keynote speaker. Geurts highlighted that Hampton Roads and shipbuilders face “great challenges, but great opportunities” as the Navy prepares to increase its fleet and the region grapples with how to provide an equipped workforce. Kaine echoed his message, recognizing that state and local officials, community colleges, and k-12 schools should prepare now with increased career and technical education opportunities and apprenticeship programs to ensure they can fill the need.
“The good news is we made the commitment and we are putting the budgetary money to it. The challenge is between now and 2030, we gotta have the workforce for ship repair and shipbuilding. We need much greater levels of investment. It is the local school systems, it’s the community colleges, it’s the workforce boards. It’s dialogue with the state, the state education system, and chambers of commerce. It is a big, big challenge. Identifying the needs. What do we need? And who is going to own each part of meeting that need? And that’s what this discussion today is to get at. It’s to look down that road and help us decide what we need to do to build that workforce that will construct this Navy of the future,” Kaine said on Friday.
After Geurts’ remarks, Kaine moderated a panel discussion between Geurts, Ron O’Rourke with Congressional Research Service, Bill Crow, President of the Virginia Ship Repair Association, Megan Healy, Chief Workforce Advisor to the Governor, Craig Quigley, Executive Director Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance (HRMFFA) , and Latitia McCane, Director of Education at the Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding. These local stakeholders and experts spoke about what the region needs to do to ready itself through workforce training, education initiatives, and infrastructure investment for the future. The panel also discussed how to remove the stigma around manufacturing jobs to ensure students are exposed at a younger age to the possibilities of holding these high-paying jobs in fields like electrical work, engineering, and welding.
Event partners included the cities of Hampton and Newport News, the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, Opportunity Inc., and the Peninsula Council for Workforce Development.