December 3, 2022 01:06

US lawmakers introduce proposed maritime grant training program

SJC Maritime Training Center
SJC Maritime Training Center. Source: San Jacinto College.

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Lawmakers from across the United States have introduced new legislation to bolster occupational training in the maritime sector.

By Michael McGrady, Maritime Direct Americas & Pacific Correspondent 

WASHINGTON — Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia, D-Tex., introduced HR 987 before the Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives. 

Garcia introduced HR 987 earlier this month, with an official statement announcing her proposal on Feb. 12.

The proposed bill, featuring bipartisan support, would create a grant program for community and technical colleges across the country to offer training programs for would-be professionals in the maritime industry. Some $200 million would be authorized for a nationwide grant program if the bill passes and becomes law.

“Maritime industry jobs are a critical part of our nation’s economy,” Garcia said in a press release. “Yet research has shown that there may soon be a shortage of maritime industry workers.” 

“Therefore, it is essential that Congress act to support community and technical colleges providing training for the next generation of workers in this industry to avoid a future workforce shortage,” Garcia added. 

Garcia represents the 29th congressional district in the US state of Texas. 

This includes a metropolitan area occupying a portion of Houston — the largest municipality in Texas. 

Houston is one of the largest gateways in the United States, and the world, for LNG export shipping and other cargo.

Leadership for San Jacinto College — a community college system in the Greater Houston and the Pasadena areas — also applauded the bill.

“The Houston region was recently named second in the United States for the number of mariners living or working in the area,” said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, chancellor of the San Jacinto College system. “The Houston Ship Channel is a major hub for this activity. As a maritime training provider, San Jacinto College and our maritime students are grateful for this proposal for grant funding of the Community and Technical College Maritime Centers of Excellence program.”

Garcia added that “the bipartisanship and geographic diversity exhibited by the bill’s original cosponsors show the importance of this issue in Congress. We will continue to work together on this shared priority.”

Rep. Don Young, R-Ak., is also a cosponsor of the legislation. Representing a sparse population in the state of Alaska, Young’s constituents also rely on maritime trades and professions for the security of the state’s economy.

“Countless Alaskans make their living on the ocean, and we should be doing all that we can to support our mariners by providing them with the job training programs needed to support the maritime workforce,” Young said. “This is needed now more than ever given the effects of the pandemic on our economy.” 

“Our community colleges have long been an excellent resource for career training and development, and they can play an important role in equipping future mariners with the skills they need to be successful,” he said.

“I am proud to introduce this legislation to enable our community colleges to help meet the demand for sailors, fishermen, and others whose livelihoods depend on our waters,” Young said. “Standing with our mariners is one of my highest priorities, and I will continue working to ensure that they have the skills and support necessary to thrive.”

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