GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) – It was all good news Monday morning as Electric Boat held its annual legislative breakfast in Groton. With defense spending on the rise, the submarine maker’s biggest challenge may be finding enough people to hire.
Every year at this time, Electric Boat has a meeting and tells people how it is doing, how it thinks it’s going to be doing, and what it would like lawmakers to be doing. Apparently it is doing better than it has been doing since the 1980s, and it is already planning things out until the 2080s.
The US Navy is on a buying spree, spending around $11 billion a year on new submarines. That mean Electric Boat has to go on a hiring spree.
“So we plan to hire about 18,000 people in the next 10 years,” said Electric Boat President Kevin Graney.
A big chunk of EB’s workforce is set to retire during that time. That means, as more orders come in, the company’s biggest challenge is finding qualified workers.
“How are you going to find all these people, how are you going to train all these people?” Graney said, echoing people’s questions. “My answer to them is simple. We’re not starting from zero.”
Electric Boat has been working with the state’s technical high school system to get young people interested in engineering careers early. As for adults, the presentation highlighted EB’s apprentice program. The Company’s president calls that the workforce pipeline. It is crucial with plans for more and bigger submarines, reaching a peak around 2030.
Remember that $11 billion figure? Congressman Joe Courtney says that is about half the Navy’s entire shipbuilding account.
“If you go back 10 years ago, it was about a quarter, so I think the priority has steadily grown over the years in terms of recognizing the undersea domain as an area we really need to invest in,” said Courtney (D-2nd District).
It looks like the Navy is going to keep prioritizing submarines, which means that Electric Boat has to keep prioritizing developing that future workforce. A workforce that largely has not even been born yet.