Murkowski: Advanced Manufacturing Holds “Unprecedented Opportunities” for U.S.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today conducted oversight of the status of innovative technologies in advanced manufacturing by highlighting the economic importance of the sector – an estimated 24 million domestic jobs – while cautioning that there is much room for improvement in workforce development.
“The truth is that not only do advanced manufacturing industries merit more national attention, but we need to do a better job of preparing a workforce for the high-quality jobs these industries are creating,” Murkowski said. “With two million manufacturing jobs projected to be perpetually unfilled by 2025, there is a growing skills gap in our country on the manufacturing job market that must be addressed. Moving forward, we will have both enormous challenges and unprecedented opportunities in advanced manufacturing in Alaska and across the nation.”
With an estimated impact on the American economy of approximately $3.1 trillion per year, advanced manufacturing industries account for roughly 19 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.
Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, pointed to the shipyard in her hometown of Ketchikan, Alaska as an example of how advanced manufacturing is transforming the community with economic advancement and career development.
“Developing local talent is essential to ensuring that jobs exist to support families in Ketchikan. The construction of the Alaska Class Ferry project in our shipyard in Ketchikan is truly a game changer not only for the surrounding communities but for the whole state of Alaska,” Murkowski said. “Prioritizing workforce development has transformed Ketchikan and is a symbol for the rest of the country and world to follow.”
Mr. Doug Ward, Director of Shipyard Development at Vigor Alaska and a witness at today's hearing, agreed with Murkowski and added that “the models of economic and workforce development emerging from Ketchikan are scalable and distributable and are beginning to be adopted in other neighboring communities seeking economic security through advanced manufacturing.” In a nod to fellow panelist Dr. Leo Christodoulou, the Director of Engineering for Materials and Structures at Boeing, Mr. Ward added that “we like to tell people in Alaska that we are the Boeing of Ketchikan. Advanced manufacturing can reach into small communities and be engaged in by small businesses, and that’s what our story is about.”
Murkowski also noted the importance of encouraging innovation and highlighted some of the work taking place at the Department of Energy, including research and development in critical minerals and additive manufacturing that has already advanced to the point where fully functional Shelby Cobras can be created via a 3D printer.
The broad, bipartisan energy bill – S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act – written by Murkowski and Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., would put in place additional efforts to promote workforce development and advanced manufacturing.
Witness testimony and archived video from Tuesday’s hearing is available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website.