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TCC applauds federal legislation that would create Maritime Centers of Excellence

A bipartisan bill introduced May 2 in the U.S. House of Representatives that would boost maritime education and training is receiving a thumbs-up from Tidewater Community College.

The Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act of 2017 is co-sponsored by Rep. Rob Wittman (VA-01) and Rep. Gene Green of Texas, with additional support from Rep. Scott Taylor (VA-02) and others.

TCC would be a strong candidate for the Center of Excellence designation, said TCC President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani.

“TCC has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to training the Hampton Roads workforce – particularly our military veterans – in the maritime industry,” she said.

Passage of the legislation would authorize the Secretary of Transportation to designate community and technical colleges with maritime training programs meeting certain criteria as centers of excellence for domestic maritime workforce training and education.

“Our industry partners have told us repeatedly how critical it is to ramp up training in an industry that will require a skilled workforce to remain economically competitive,” President Kolovani said. “This bill could enable us to expand our offerings to meet the pressing need in maritime, an area significant not only to Hampton Roads, but to our national infrastructure.”

Earning the designation would allow TCC to receive technical assistance, surplus federal equipment and federal funding. The act is intended to secure the talent pipeline for domestic maritime industry jobs.

“A well-trained, skilled maritime workforce is critical for our nation’s economy and national security,” Rep. Wittman said. “Advancing the capabilities of community and technical colleges –such as Rappahannock and Tidewater community colleges – to assist the federal government and industry in securing the talent pipeline for the domestic maritime industry will mean more shipbuilders and repairmen to sustain and expand trade and grow our Navy’s fleet.”

The maritime industry requires technical skills training and licensing, even for entry-level positions. To earn appropriate credentials for each level of maritime industry employment, workers must complete regular training from course providers approved by the U.S. Coast Guard.

TCC is among a handful of community and technical colleges that provide maritime and energy workforce training. The college hosts the Southeast Maritime and Transportation (SMART) Center, the only National Science Foundation Advanced Technology Education Center devoted to developing the maritime workforce.

TCC also offers academic and workforce training programs in many of the maritime and energy skills employers are seeking, including logistics, supply chain management, warehouse and distribution, welding, diesel and gasoline engines, alternative energies and industrial technologies.