SHAHEEN: SKILLED WORKFORCE IS CRITICAL TO JOB CREATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH

May 02, 2012

(Hanover, NH) – A skilled manufacturing workforce will help create high-quality jobs and keep our economy globally competitive, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said today during a visit to high-tech manufacturer Hypertherm in Hanover. Shaheen toured the company’s facilities and discussed how recent federal grants to River Valley Community College are helping unemployed workers gain apprenticeships and on-the-job training at manufacturing firms like Hypertherm.

“The high-tech jobs created at Hypertherm are a great example of how an innovative company can drive our economic growth,” Shaheen said. “Advanced manufacturing firms are creating high-paying jobs and helping maintain our technological edge, but their success depends on a highly skilled workforce. The programs at River Valley Community College will help ensure that workers can develop the skills they need to keep these high-quality, local jobs here in New Hampshire.”

In 2011, River Valley Community College received funding as part of a $20 million Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) grant to New Hampshire community colleges to train workers in advanced manufacturing skills. The college was also awarded $4.9 million from the U.S. Department of Labor this past February to continue its work on the Skills Through Apprenticeship Retraining (STAR) program, which places unemployed workers in apprenticeships and allows them to apply their work towards earning an associate’s degree. The first session of training and employment for workers at Hypertherm begins May 7.

“To provide for the development of our associates is an integral part of our mission at Hypertherm,” said Barbara Couch, Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility at Hypertherm. “This is not simply an act of altruism – it is an investment in our most significant strategic asset: our people.  Our success has been built on this principle.  The recent grant to RVCC by the Department of Labor will allow our associates to earn a number of stackable credentials, including an apprenticeship certificate, an advance machine tool technology certificate, an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree.  The grant will also establish an RVCC academic center in Lebanon, NH to serve the needs of the advanced manufacturing community at large.”

Headquartered in Hanover, Hypertherm designs and manufactures advanced tools for metal cutting and employs approximately 1,000 workers in New Hampshire. Their success has led them to outgrow their current manufacturing facility and they are in the midst of constructing a new building.

Shaheen has been an ardent advocate for worker training. Along with supporting both of the grants described above, she has also introduced a bipartisan bill with U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) that would encourage companies to increase on-the-job training.

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