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Fri, Jun 04, 2010

DOL Earmarks $15 Million For Displaced Shuttle Workers

Federal Grant Awarded To Brevard County, FL Workforce Development Board

During a visit to the John F. Kennedy Space Center Wednesday, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis (pictured, right) announced a grant of $15 million to assist approximately 3,200 workers who will be impacted by the impending retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. The grant will impact workers from major aerospace contractors, including ASRC Aerospace Corp., Boeing and United Space Alliance.

"During nearly three decades of continuous space shuttle flights, these dedicated and talented workers have helped move our nation -- and the world as a whole -- forward in a broad range of disciplines," said Secretary Solis. "Today, these hard-working Americans need and deserve our support, and I am pleased that this grant will allow them to upgrade their skills further and gain access to work opportunities in high demand industries."

The grant is being awarded to The Brevard Workforce Development Board Inc., which also will serve as the program operator. Funds will help individuals ranging from entry level workers to highly skilled professionals with services including career guidance assistance, job search skills training, resume review, skills assessment and labor market information, and will provide additional types of training and continuing education opportunities.

"We must take every step possible to maintain the Space Coast's highly skilled workforce, and this grant will provide critical support to workers and help them find new job opportunities in our community," said Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, who represents Florida's District 24 and joined Secretary Solis in making the grant announcement. "At the same time, I will continue working to minimize the human space flight gap and attract new businesses to the Space Coast in order to strengthen and diversify our economy."

The end of the Space Shuttle Program is the result of a decision made in 2004 to retire the program by a projected date of November 2010. There are up to 20,000 contract and subcontract workers who may be laid off by the end of the program. A significant number of the direct layoffs (6,000 to 7,000 according to the latest information) are expected to be in Brevard County, FL.

National Emergency Grants are part of the secretary of labor's discretionary fund and are awarded based on a state's ability to meet specific guidelines.

In a statement, the AIAA said the grant would be a big plus for aerospace workers in the region. “For almost thirty years, the space shuttle has served the nation and the world as the centerpiece of our nation’s space program," said AIAA President Dr. Mark J. Lewis. "The shuttle has made important contributions to our knowledge of how we can live and operate in space, and has been a significant tool in enabling scientific inquiry. But a program such as the space shuttle is about more than just the technology and science; it is also about the people who dreamed, designed, developed, managed, and flew those wondrous craft into space. To this end, we support efforts to ensure that the aerospace professionals who made this program possible will be able to continue contributing their hard-won experience to the nation’s space endeavors.”

“The Labor Department’s decision, in tandem with Rep. Suzanne Kosmas’ (FL-24) recently introduced ‘Space to Schools Act’ – which encourages former space shuttle program workers with relevant aerospace experience to qualify as elementary, secondary, or vocational school teachers, by providing up to $10,000 per worker for required teacher training – represent concrete, first steps by the government to assist the transition of space shuttle professionals,” Lewis said.




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