The U.S. Navy’s Shipbuilding Industrial Base Task Force (SIB-TF), in partnership with the Department of Defense’s Office of Industrial Policy (IndPol), launched the “Pennsylvania Pipeline Project: Philadelphia Region Workforce Pilot” on May 27, 2021. Managed under IndPol’s Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) Program, and built upon an economic development framework, this effort aligns critical workforce and trade skill opportunities across the academic and shipbuilding communities. This pilot, which is planned to rapidly expand across the state, aims to energize and engage the greater Philadelphia region by creating and sustaining a defense focused workforce pipeline designed to meet the maritime demand signal and requirement for highly specialized trades now and in the future.
For over a century, Pennsylvania has been a center of gravity for defense shipbuilding trades, with nearly 300 defense suppliers and over 40 critical shipbuilding suppliers, the most of any state. Establishing sustainable high skill technical trade talent pipelines in the Philadelphia region is needed to address existing workforce constraints and to ensure the vendor base has the resources and competencies needed to execute the mission.
“This project will support the economy of the greater Philadelphia region by providing a robust and reliable entry-level talent pipeline to enable its shipbuilding industrial base,” said Mr. Jesse Salazar, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy. “The initiative enables employers to fill shortages and strengthen their industrial workforce through efficient and effective recruiting, hiring, training, and retention of skilled workforce members.”
As part of IBAS’s National Imperative for Industrial Skills (“Skills Imperative”) initiative, this pilot project includes partners from maritime industry employers, educational institutions, regional workforce and trade organizations, and government.
The Executive Director of Program Executive Office, Columbia-class Submarine, Mr. Matt Sermon, recently said, “Our maritime enterprise has a significant opportunity ahead as we collaborate with industry and educational institutions to address critical trade skill gaps. These gaps must be resolved in order to build and maintain the Navy platforms the nation needs. We must use this opportunity to build on best practices for the ways we recruit, train, and retain our current and future maritime trade workforce. Welders, machinists, fitters, electricians, and quality assurance technicians are as much a part of the Navy and Nation’s critical readiness infrastructure as any facility or technology.”
In the coming months, Training Modernization Group (TMG), Inc., as the overall pilot project lead, will match the unique demand signal of small- and medium-sized defense suppliers with career and technical education programs from the Philadelphia region. The pilot will formally launch in September of this year to coincide with the start of the academic year.
“The timing of this pilot effort aligns perfectly with other IBAS-funded efforts such as the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research-led Accelerated Training in Defense Manufacturing (ATDM) program, which will be executing an accelerated training model in CNC machining, welding, metrology and additive manufacturing. Some of the Philadelphia industry stakeholders will send a few of their employees to train at the ATDM facility in Danville, Virginia for the June and November 2021 cohorts. Another IBAS-funded effort, Project MFG, is in the process of coordinating a competition in this region to showcase critical shipbuilding trades such as welding and machining,” said Ms. Adele Ratcliff, the IBAS Program Director.