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Immediate Release

DOD's Office of Industrial Policy Promotes Defense Industrial Workforce Strategy at Stakeholder Summit

On Aug. 25, 2021, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy, Jesse Salazar, presented the “Department of Defense’s Perspectives on Industrial Workforce Challenges” at the Accelerated Training in Defense Manufacturing (ATDM) Summit in Danville, Virginia.  Mr. Salazar was among a group of U.S. government officials—including U.S. Senator Mark Warner (Virginia), who gave the keynote address; Rear Admiral Scott Pappano, Program Executive Officer for Columbia class submarine program; and Ms. Adele Ratcliff, DOD Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) Program Director—who shared their perspectives on closing defense industrial base workforce skills gaps, particularly in the submarine shipbuilding sector.

In his keynote address, Senator Warner set the tone for the summit by emphasizing that “the whole notion of how we view investment in human capital…has to fundamentally change…if we don’t start viewing investing in human capital in the same kind of broad way that we view investing in research and development or plant equipment, then we’re not going to make it.”

To address some of these human capital challenges, the Office of Industrial Policy, through its IBAS program, recently awarded the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville, Virginia an additional $4.3 million that expands on the previous IBAS investments.  The award supports an ongoing three-year pilot project to develop, exercise, and evaluate ATDM’s ability to accelerate and expand the production of highly skilled workers to meet increasingly demanding defense maritime production requirements.  Successful demonstration of this training platform, which aims to reduce the typical 1-2 year training times to only four months, could underpin the creation of an expanded network of similar Regional Training Centers across the United States. 

The ATDM project is a prime example of how the Department partners more actively with industry, academia, and state and local governments to address industrial workforce shortages affecting production and sustainment of critical defense systems.  This is one of 12 currently funded projects launched under the DOD’s “National Imperative for Industrial Skills” initiative (or “the Skills Imperative”), which has invested over $80 million in the last two fiscal years. 

“The advances here in Danville have resonance far beyond shipbuilding and will enable the future of American production by cultivating the people who will build our country back better,” said Jesse Salazar, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy.  “The ATDM model, led by Team Danville, will help the DOD scale American capacity to manufacture the exceptional parts, machines, and resilient supply chain materials our warfighters need.”

The Skills Imperative is a part of the Department’s broader efforts to build resilient supply chains and a prepared and capable workforce in order to enhance the manufacturing and industrial skills needed to strengthen our economic and national security.  Led by the IBAS program in the DOD’s Office of Industrial Policy, the Skills Imperative goals are to promote the prestige of manufacturing and industrial careers, accelerate training development pipelines, and elevate U.S. manufacturing to world-leading status.  

Adele Ratcliff, IBAS Director, went on to say, “our Team Danville partners led by the Institute of Advanced Learning and Research, as well as all the world class students in the ATDM program, are on the leading edge of this exciting and innovative effort to rebuild America’s manufacturing and industrial workforce.  I look forward to our continued success together.”

Those interested in learning more about the National Imperative for Industrial Skills or how to join the IBAS program’s Cornerstone Consortium of members eligible to propose prototyping efforts in support of the Skills Imperative should email: