ALBUQUERQUE ― U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) visited Sandia National Laboratories to meet with employees and discuss issues of interest to the labs.
The Congressman toured the Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications (MESA) Complex and the Neutron Generator Laboratory. Sandia personnel also briefed Luján on the laboratory’s workforce needs.
Recently, Luján introduced the DOE National Labs Jobs Access Act to expand apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs to deliver the training and educational requirements needed for skilled technical worker positions. Skilled technical workers are vital to the missions at the national laboratories and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) sites. These programs will increase technical worker employment in New Mexico, especially in underserved and underrepresented communities.
“The bipartisan DOE National Labs Jobs Access Act will ensure we have a trained workforce by creating new apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs,” Luján said. “This will help us realize the full benefit of our national laboratories by providing more opportunities and more jobs. I look forward to working with Sandia’s leadership to ensure that the laboratory has a strong pipeline of workers.”
Luján also introduced the TechSmart Workforce Development Act to increase opportunities and innovate pathways to prepare more workers for employment opportunities in the technology sector. The bill establishes the TechSMART Workforce Development Program to provide competitive grants for technology-based job training and education programs.
As part of Luján’s work to strengthen the relationship between businesses and national laboratories, he introduced the Cooperative Research and Development Fund Authorization Act to authorize funding for Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs). These agreements would enable the labs, businesses, and startups to pursue joint research and development, making national labs more accessible to users and encouraging the transfer of technology to the private sector. Additionally, he introduced theIMPACT for Energy Act to establish a nonprofit foundation for the U.S. Department of Energy that would channel private-sector investments and accelerate the commercialization of innovative technologies in energy, such as those developed at Sandia.
“Transferring the innovative technologies that are being developed at the national labs is a critical component to building a stronger economy in New Mexico and communities across the country,” Luján noted. “By making it easier and more cost-effective for businesses to partner with the labs, we can pave the way for local businesses to commercialize new technologies and create new ventures that spur job creation.”