At a series of stops in Westerly today, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) addressed priorities for rebuilding the economy and strengthening the middle class, including support for domestic manufacturing and job training initiatives.
Langevin made his first stop at Ametek SCP, a manufacturer of underwater electrical and optical connectors and cable assemblies for military and commercial use. With products widely found in the U.S. Navy's submarine fleet, Ametek's largest customer is General Dynamics, which builds the peerless Virginia Class Submarines in Quonset. Earlier this month Langevin addressed the importance of building up advanced manufacturing in the state at a regional forum he put on with the New England Council. After meeting today with Pam Hurst, Vice President of Business Development, he highlighted Ametek as an example of the type of business that can bring quality jobs to Rhode Island if the state has the skilled workforce to meet their needs. Ametek currently employs about 70 people at its Westerly location.
Later, the Congressman toured the Tower Street School Community Center with Joan Serra, Director of Community Relations & Building Operations, and Anne DiOrio, Programs & Facilities Operations Assistance. They discussed the center's varied programs, including its efforts to boost job training in the region.
Among its initiatives, the facility hosts the Stepping Up health care workforce development program, which provides education, training and support services to community residents, as well as full and part-time employees of health care organizations, who are interested in developing long-term careers in the field. Langevin has emphasized the opportunity for Rhode Island to create jobs in health care. Even during the 18-month recession, the health care sector added 428,000 jobs nationally.
"With heated debates about the federal budget continuing in Washington, it is critical to remember that when we pursue policies that support the middle class, such as advanced manufacturing and job training efforts, we provide increased opportunities for all Americans," said Langevin.
"Building a skilled workforce must be one of our top priorities to help current businesses expand and attract new ones that can create more jobs. After hearing from many businesses unable to find qualified applicants to fill available positions, even with high unemployment, I started the Rhode Island Skilled Economy (RISE) Tour to visit companies like Ametek and training programs like Stepping Up to highlight ways to better prepare our workers. No one program or person can reverse the impact of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, but closing the skills gap through better collaboration between industries and educators is a critical part of giving our workers and businesses better opportunities to reach their potential."
Langevin also stopped at the Westerly Senior Center at lunchtime today to take questions from area seniors. In the wake of increased attention surrounding Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan's proposal to transform seniors' health care by ending the Medicare guarantee, Langevin has expressed his opposition to cutting benefits.
"As a cornerstone of our efforts to ensure middle class Americans can have a secure retirement, we can and must strengthen Medicare for our seniors and generations to come," said Langevin. "We have the ability to significantly reduce costs without jeopardizing access to necessary treatments. The health care reform law found $500 billion in savings through making the system of care more efficient. This is far preferable to the Republican solution offered by Congressman Ryan, which simply shifts the burden of increasing health care costs to seniors by giving them vouchers that will cover less of their expenses than traditional Medicare."