State and federal leaders gathered at Electric Boat in Groton on Tuesday afternoon to highlight the defense contractor's labor apprenticeship program.
Gov. Ned Lamont, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo visited Electric Boat to talk about the importance of registered apprenticeship and job training programs and how they help economic growth and prosperity.
The Electric Boat apprenticeship program is run by the Connecticut Dept. of Labor.
Arnold Chappell is an inside machinist who has been working at Electric Boat for the last six-and-a-half years. He said said when he graduated from high school, he didn't know what he wanted to do, but started at Electric Boat in assembly and worked there for a few years before starting an apprenticeship.
Chappell said the apprenticeship was one of the best things he could have done because he learned every machine in the shop and learned a whole trade in four years.
Holly Boyle, an apprentice at Electric Boat, agreed with Chappell and said this was the best decision she's made so far.
Boyle said she started as an administrative aide at Electric Boat and then took some college classes and was able to get qualified for a design apprenticeship and now she has six months left remaining in her program.
"This apprenticeship program is a partnership between the Connecticut Department of Labor, our higher education institutions, and the business community, and it has a long and storied history here in Connecticut," Lamont said.
“Programs like this are a vital part of the nation’s employment make-up, and an important resource to help provide workers with the tools necessary for in-demand jobs," he added.
General Dynamics Electric Boat president Kevin Graney said for the first time in a generation, they are building two classes of submarines and are hiring thousands of new employees.
Last year, the company hired more than 2,000 employees, Graney said, and they plan to do that again this year.
“This pathbreaking apprenticeship program is our future,” Senator Richard Blumenthal said.
“A federal-state partnership, it’s a win-win for workers and business – providing critical skill training for new jobs and exciting opportunities. Over the years, Electric Boat’s program has recruited bright and motivated minds, and turned job training into long-term, high-quality jobs for hundreds of workers. Their skilled craftsmanship creates the technologically advanced machines that make Connecticut proud and is the future of the submarine workforce," Blumenthal added.
The state Dept. of Labor's Office of Apprenticeship Training currently has over 6,700 registered apprentices and almost 1,700 employers that span 50 occupations, Lamont's office said. Over the last 20 years, 900 apprentices have worked at Electric Boat, they added.