U.S. Labor Secretary Perez, Cuyahoga County Executive Budish visit The Great Lakes Towing Company headquarters, Great Lakes Shipyard

U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez traveled to Cleveland June 6, to meet with Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish, Chairman Ronald Rasmus of The Great Lakes Towing Company and members of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Workforce Investment Board to discuss the crucial role that sector strategic partnerships play in equipping workers with the skills they need to compete in today’s labor market. Sector strategies are employer-driven partnerships of industry, education and training, and other stakeholders that focus on the workforce needs of key industries in a regional labor market.

Perez and Budish toured Great Lakes Shipyard—a full-service shipyard for new vessel construction, ship maintenance and repairs, and custom fabrication that used its sector partnerships to grow their business and train their workers.

During the visit, Perez announced the availability of approximately $100 million in America’s Promise Job-Driven Grants to develop and grow regional partnerships between workforce agencies, education and training providers and employers in a variety of industries such as information technology, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, financial services and educational services. The America’s Promise grant competition is designed to:

  • Increase opportunities for all Americans through tuition-free training for middle- to high-skilled occupations and industries
  • Expand employer involvement in the design and delivery of training programs
  • Utilize evidence-based sector strategies to increase employability, employment earnings and outcomes of job seekers
  • Leverage additional public, private and foundation resources to scale and sustain proven strategies

“These grants are part of the Obama administration’s commitment to redesigning a modern skills infrastructure in America that engages employers as never before,” said Perez. “Workforce partnerships built around the industry-specific needs of multiple employers are helping to expand opportunity for American workers, while also strengthening local communities and building a U.S. economy poised for growth.”

In 2015, the Department of Labor awarded a $7 million Sector Partnership National Emergency Grant to the State of Ohio to support a variety of sector partnerships across the state. The state awarded $2.1 million of that grant to the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Workforce Investment Board for partnerships focused on manufacturing, healthcare and information technology careers. For the past two years, Great Lakes Shipyard participated in the Medina County Workforce Development internship program sponsored by Ohio Means Jobs and the Make it in America Grant. The grant was made available to Northeast Ohio welding students through the educational leadership of Cuyahoga Community College.

Great Lakes Shipyard partnered with Cuyahoga Community College’s (Tri-C) Fast Track Welding Program to recruit interns to be trained in the shipyard. The Tri-C Fast Track Welding Program is a 10-week program which offers hands-on training in welding blueprint reading, stick welding, MIG welding and TIG welding. At the end of each class, the students submit test pieces for AWS evaluation by Element Materials Technologies and receive certification for qualified submissions.

Rasmus shared details on the Workforce Pipeline that The Great Lakes Towing Company and Great Lakes Shipyard created to provide internship and on-the-job training opportunities for local students at three Cleveland schools: Tri-C, Max S. Hayes High School and Saint Martin de Porres High School. Rasmus said these scholastic partnerships support skilled trades by continuing their legacy through Cleveland’s future employees.

“As a Cleveland business with 116 years of expertise in the maritime industry, The Towing Company has always known the significance of training and developing our youth in preparation for real-world, good paying careers in the trades.,” Rasmus said. “Exposing students to the shipyard and teaching them interpersonal skills not only increases their growth, but allows us to create a talent pool for us to tap into as we expand our manufacturing business.”

Maritime Editorial