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San Jacinto applauds federal maritime training bill

May 4, 2017 10:36 AM

The Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act aims to advance the capabilities of two-year colleges

The following is the text of a news release from San Jacinto College:

(PASADENA, Texas) — San Jacinto College is expressing its support for the Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act, introduced in Congress on Tuesday by Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, with the support of Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, and other members of Congress.

The Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act is intended to advance the capabilities of two-year community and technical colleges to assist the federal government and industry in securing the talent pipeline for domestic maritime industry jobs. This legislation will help fill a void in maritime training and education programs.

“We thank Rep. Green, Rep. Olson, Rep. Poe and others for championing this legislation on behalf of San Jacinto College and our maritime partners,” said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College chancellor. “Our region is home to one of the world’s largest ports and is ranked second in the nation for maritime jobs. This designation will allow us to continue to provide U.S. Coast Guard-approved training to help meet the work force needs of the Gulf Coast region.”

The Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act is being introduced in Congress with the support of a bipartisan group of legislators. Green is the bill’s author, along with Virginia Rep. Rob Wittman, and Olson is an original co-sponsor.

“In our district, we have a surplus of maritime jobs and not enough people with the skills and training to fill them,” said Green. “The industry is continuing to invest and grow along the Port of Houston, and we want to make sure that our constituents have the opportunity to take these high-skilled jobs. This bipartisan legislation will help bridge the gap. It’s good for our local community, it’s good for our businesses, and it’s good for the American economy.” 

A shortage of qualified maritime workers has been identified by U.S. industry leaders as the primary challenge to growth in the domestic maritime sector. 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 Coast Guard. Community and technical colleges offer this training on an affordable basis.

“This bill will help meet critical demands of the ports in our Gulf Coast region,” Olson said. “Houston is home to one of the world’s largest ports and relies on trained maritime workers to keep it at full operations. We need maritime training and education programs to be readily available to fill the need for maritime workers. San Jacinto College plays a vital role in training the next generation of workers. I’m pleased to co-sponsor this needed bill and look forward to working with Rep. Gene Green to help get it passed.”

San Jacinto College remains committed to training the maritime work force. Since 2010, the college’s maritime program has awarded more than 5,500 Coast Guard-approved course completion certificates. The college also introduced the state’s first associate degree program in maritime transportation to train those new to the maritime industry. Last year marked the opening of the San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center on the Maritime Campus in La Porte, Texas, to offer more training opportunities for mariners in the Gulf Coast region.

“There are more than 56,000 direct maritime-related jobs at the Port of Houston alone,” said Poe. “As the work force grows, students must be ready to enter the maritime industry with job-ready skills. This legislation simply gives local community and technical colleges the resources to effectively prepare their students. As co-chairman of the PORTS Caucus, I recognize that this legislation takes an important step forward in ensuring future workforce growth for the Port of Houston and ports across the nation.” 

Unless action is taken to expand the availability of domestic maritime work force technical training, the continued lack of federal government focus on domestic maritime industry technical training, a large percentage of the work force nearing retirement, technological advancements and the expansion of the Panama Canal are all factors that will compound the domestic maritime workforce shortage in the years ahead.

The San Jacinto College Maritime Technology and Training Center on the Maritime Campus offers a full calendar of U.S. Coast Guard-approved maritime courses. For more information and to register, visit sanjac.edu/maritime.

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