Gov. Martin O’Malley talks with a worker at Maritime Applied Physics Corp. in Baltimore on Wednesday. (John Wagner/The Washington Post)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley sought to highlight a new job-training initiative during a visit Wednesday to a Baltimore company that manufactures high-tech products for customers including the U.S. Navy.

O’Malley (D) touted Maritime Applied Physics Corp. as a model for Maryland employers that could benefit from his Employment Advancement Right Now legislation, which passed overwhelmingly during the legislative session that ended in April.

The measure creates a $4.5 million competitive grant program aimed at creating job-training partnerships for targeted industries that have a high demand for skilled workers.

O’Malley acknowledged that the initial appropriation for the program is modest but hinted at future expansion, saying “a lot of times things start small to get them in the budget.”

He called the EARN program, as it is known, “the wave of the future when it comes to workforce development.”

Mark Rice, chief executive of the company that hosted O’Malley, said the program could help his workers update their skills as manufacturing technology advances.

The growing company’s products include ground and sea vehicles that have been purchased by the Navy and private-sector companies.

O’Malley’s EARN legislation was overshadowed during the legislative session by several higher-profile initiatives, including repeal of the death penalty, a sweeping gun-control package and an increase in gas taxes that will be used to fund more transportation projects.

O’Malley administration officials said they are likely to start taking applications for grant funding in the fall with the hope of making awards within a year. They said they are looking for “industry-led” ideas.