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Virginia earns DoD grant to train shipbuilding workers for U.S. Navy

virginia politics
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Virginia has received a $5 million Department of Defense grant to train workers for Virginia’s defense manufacturing industries in Danville and Hampton Roads.

The grant will go to the Virginia Defense Manufacturing Community, which brings together the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Southern Virginia, and Old Dominion University’s Maritime Industrial Base Ecosystem.

With the $5 million grant, the Virginia Defense Manufacturing Community will create a K-12 to university training pipeline, helping students in the Danville and Norfolk areas gain the skills needed for defense manufacturing industries. It will ensure Virginia has the advanced workforce these industries require. The training pipeline will increase manufacturing capacity, capability, resiliency, and diversity in the maritime defense industrial base.

“Our maritime defense manufacturing industry is vital to the nation’s security and a critical part of our economy,” Gov. Ralph Northam said. “Virginia is a recognized leader in defense manufacturing. This groundbreaking partnership will help diversify and modernize the nation’s best maritime workforce to build and sustain the world’s best Navy, while providing young people a pathway toward fulfilling jobs in a high-tech, well-paid industry.”

“This initiative presents a tremendous opportunity to strengthen our country’s defense workforce,” said Acting Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Kathleen Jabs. “The entire grant development process required and fostered collaboration among federal, state, and local entities as well as private businesses, academia, and regional economic alliances. We’re excited about the investment in the future beginning with Virginia’s youngest learners.”

The project will create a Manufacturing Engineering Technology community college to university pathway that awards credentials to manufacturing engineers.

Students will be introduced to the manufacturing workforce opportunities in elementary school. As they get older, they will have access to curriculums related to their preferred manufacturing discipline, and access to employment opportunities at the high school, community college, and university levels.

“We are eager to extend our advanced manufacturing training and engineering programs across the Commonwealth in order to advance Virginia’s maritime workforce to industry 4.0 standards and beyond,” said Institute for Advanced Learning and Research Executive Director Mark Gignac. “We aim to integrate K-12, community college, and university programs with cutting-edge training resources to deliver the strongest, most diverse, and most adaptable manufacturing workforce.”

“We look forward to building the highly successful Great Opportunities in Technology and Engineering Careers program in the Hampton Roads region,” said Maritime Industrial Base Ecosystem Co-Chairman Dr. Eric Weisel and Vice Admiral Herman Shelanski (USN-Ret.). “The opportunities this program provides will be key to continually growing the nation’s most capable maritime workforce and to continuing implementation of the most advanced Industry 4.0 and 5.0 technologies. Combined with strong and growing partnerships, we seek to create the maritime industrial base workforce of tomorrow to build and sustain the world’s best Navy and bolster our economy.”

“This award underscores Old Dominion University’s commitment to excellence in academic, innovation, and workforce development programs supporting Virginia’s maritime industry,” said Old Dominion University President Dr. Brian O. Hemphill.

The grant will be invested over federal fiscal years 2022 and 2023.