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(Charlestown, NH) – A highly skilled workforce is critical to strengthening our economy and maintaining our technological edge, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said today while touting workforce development and on-the-job training programs at Whelen Engineering in Charlestown. Shaheen toured the company’s manufacturing facilities and discussed how manufacturing companies can follow Whelen’s lead in using workforce training to create jobs and expand their workforce.

Whelen Engineering has partnered with local New Hampshire high schools and River Valley Community College to train workers in manufacturing and to help fill the needs of their company.

“Advanced manufacturing firms are critical to growing our economy and staying competitive in the global economy, but their success depends on having skilled workers to get the job done,” Shaheen said. “One of the most effective ways to grow a highly skilled workforce, keep high-quality jobs in New Hampshire and promote employment is through workforce development.”

Shaheen has been a strong advocate for workforce training programs that give American workers the knowledge and skills needed to compete for quality jobs, including in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). She supported the expansion of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, a critical source of grant funds to state community colleges, and has helped secure several grants for New Hampshire’s community colleges to train workers. Shaheen is also an original co-sponsor of the bipartisan Immigration Innovation Act of 2013 (I-Squared Act of 2013), which would increase available visas and green cards for highly skilled workers in the science and technology fields and for foreign students graduating from American universities with science and technology degrees, all while contributing to STEM-education funding. Shaheen will also reintroduce her Innovation Inspiration School Grant Program legislation in the near future to provide resources for states and schools to participate in non-traditional STEM education programs.

“These programs are a direct, high-quality investment in our people and our economy,” Shaheen added. “Whelen Engineering offers a great example of the benefits possible through workforce development and I look forward to working to open these opportunities to more companies throughout our state.”

Shaheen has also introduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Thad Cochran (R-MI), the On-the-Job Training Act, which would help Americans find and keep employment through on-the-job training (OJT) programs. The legislation authorizes the Department of Labor to award competitive grants to establish and support local OJT programs that connect unemployed workers with jobs and provide employers with training subsidies. OJT programs also provide important incentives to small businesses to encourage job growth.