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NEWS | June 7, 2021

NSWC Philadelphia Division Hosts Commitment Kickoff for Pennsylvania Pipeline Project: Philadelphia Region Workforce Pilot

By Gary Ell

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division (NSWCPD) on May 27 hosted a commitment kickoff meeting for the upcoming Pennsylvania Pipeline Project: Philadelphia Region Workforce Pilot.

The primary goal of the overall pipeline project is to “energize and engage the greater Philadelphia Region economy by creating and sustaining a maritime and defense industrial base- focused workforce pipeline that enables employers to re-capitalize their workforce through recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining skilled workforce members with critical trade skills for one-year as productive and engaged new employees,” according to the brief given during the two-hour session.

With stakeholders representing the Department of Defense’s Office of Industrial Policy (IndPol), U.S. Navy, private industry, technical universities and other key parties attending in person and virtually, the meeting afforded participants the opportunity to engage in preparation for the official Philadelphia Region Workforce Pilot implementation scheduled for fall 2021. These same pipeline efforts would then be expanded throughout the state.

NSWCPD Technical Director Tom Perotti helped kick off the session by stating, “Strategic use of this Pipeline collaborative to recruit, train, and retain our current and future maritime trades workforce, here in the Philadelphia region and beyond will build a stronger, more resilient maritime industrial base workforce.”

“We have the highest concentration of critical suppliers in the entire country right here in the Philadelphia region. We already rely upon them, so when we talk about a Pipeline Project, it starts right here in Philadelphia with its maritime roots,” added Rear Adm. Scott Pappano, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), Program Executive Office (PEO), Columbia.

Pappano continued: “It’s a strategic national imperative for us as a Nation to drive cultural change. The most important aspect is the people. Working in a skilled trade is a good job. It’s a rewarding job and you can make a great living. We need these people, and we need to drive culture by bringing the industry together, with the government at all levels – working with OSD, facilitators, representatives on [Capitol] Hill, technical educators, etc. This is it. We are it, and there is nobody else coming. We have to start driving this cultural change.”

During the meeting, representatives from companies spanning Pennsylvania shared a similar consensus during their presentations. Hiring new and skilled employees requires innovative approaches to overcome inefficiencies in the technical trade workforce. The overlap of desired skillsets into adjacent career fields, compounded by high rates of attrition, have created the exact set of circumstances that require urgent action.

To help combat this concern each company pledged to hire a certain number of Pipeline candidates as part of the 2021-22 project, committing to train, mentor, and retain them for a year.

In addition to the 14 companies presenting during the meeting, five organizations representing academia pledged to provide a pool with a certain number of candidates, as well as took on the “responsibility to develop those students to successfully enter the maritime and defense workforce upon graduation/completion,” according to briefing materials.

Finally, six additional defense-related organizations signed up as facilitators to support collaboration and communication with Pipeline team members and networks.

Training Modernization Group (TMG), Inc., has the overall pilot project lead and will formally launch the program in September 2021 to coincide with the start of the academic year.