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    Wednesday, February 21, 2024

    Electric Boat hopes to hire 5,750 employees this year

    The Thames Towboat Co. tugs John Paul, John P. Wronowski, Patricia Ann, and Adam ease the U.S. Navy Virginia-class attack submarine USS Vermont (SSN 792) to the pier alongside the south yard drydocks at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton Friday, October 4, 2022. The Vermont had been undergoing maintenance in the drydock at EB since late in 2021. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Groton ― With business booming, Electric Boat’s president told lawmakers, local leaders and officials this week that the submarine-building company is looking to hire 5,750 people this year.

    “My first words to you this morning: EB is hiring,” Kevin Graney said Monday at EB’s annual legislative meeting at the Mystic Marriott in Groton.

    EB expects the size of its workforce in Connecticut and Rhode Island to peak at about 22,000 in 2033. Its target of 5,750 hires this year includes 1,300 tradesmen in Groton, 1,500 positions at its Quonset Point facility in Rhode Island, 1,450 engineering and design positions, and 1,500 other jobs.

    After adding about 3,700 new workers in 2022, EB currently employs about 19,500 people, including 13,400 in Groton, New London and Stonington.

    EB’s latest hiring goals reflect the Navy’s demand for construction of two Virginia-class attack submarines per year as well as the first two Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines, the USS District of Columbia (SSBN 826) and the USS Wisconsin (SSBN 827). Congress jumpstarted both programs in 2008.

    “I’ve been going to EB’s legislative updates for 16 years, and Kevin’s 2023 report far surpassed any that our region has previously seen,” U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said Tuesday in a statement. “As Kevin stated, adding 5,750 jobs this year will represent the fastest rate of job growth in the 100-plus-year history of Electric Boat. The benefits for southern New England are obvious, and so is the challenge to ramp up our job training programs and career and technical schools, as well as our comprehensive middle school and high school training programs …"

    Courtney, during Monday’s meeting, said the national defense spending bill signed into law in December included the biggest investment by the Navy in job training, supply chain development, and expansion of shipyard facilities since he arrived in Congress in 2007.

    Both Graney and Courtney stressed the importance of the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board’s Manufacturing Pipeline Initiative, and urged state lawmakers to maintain financial support for it. The pipeline provides training programs to develop skilled workers for EB, the nearly 70 companies that make up the Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance and other employers in the region.

    According to its 2023 financial forecast, EWIB anticipates a total budget of $30.9 million, nearly 60% of which is allocated to expand the pipeline. More than 70% of the money will come from the federal government, including $15.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding.

    In a message to employees last week, Graney said EB has an opportunity to deliver submarines to the Navy at an unprecedented rate in the years ahead.

    “Over the next 10 years, we will hire about 20,000 more employees to keep our ranks at the steady state we need to be, which is somewhere north of about 20,000 people overall on a daily basis,” he said. “Most of these new employees will be in the trades and engineering.”

    Graney said the company expects to achieve its hiring goals by reaching out to schools at all levels, from elementary to high school, “to make sure students, guidance counselors and parents know what we know ― that designing, building and maintaining our nation’s submarines is rewarding and a life-changing career.”

    “We’re also working with high schools, career and technical schools and other colleges to develop internships and customized curriculum so when someone graduates, they’re qualified to work at Electric Boat, and, in some cases, have a job in hand before they graduate,” he said.

    b.hallenbeck@thedaycom

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