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Mississippi Shipbuilder Halter Marine Partners With Community College To Launch Apprenticeship Program

Published Friday, October 9, 2020
Mississippi Shipbuilder Halter Marine Partners With Community College To Launch Apprenticeship Program

(PASCAGOULA, MISSISSIPPI) - Pascagoula, Mississippi Shipbuilder Halter Marine is creating jobs - and, through a partnership with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC), training the Apprentices who will fill them.

The Apprenticeship Program is designed in three components: On-the-job training; Classroom training; and a progressive wage increase as participants reach set milestones.

It offers training in the Craft Labor Fields of welding, ship fitting, pipe-fitting, pipe-welding and electrical.

With the exception of pipe welding, each of the Apprenticeship Programs is four years in length - while pipe welding is three years.

Ten students are enrolled in each of the five disciplines for a total of 50 Apprentices.

“Because of our contract with the U.S. Coast Guard to build the new Polar Security Cutter, ‘we must double our workforce and we can’t do it alone,’” Halter Marine President and CEO Bob Merchant said. “We ‘need’ this Apprenticeship Program ‘and the partnership’ of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  The Polar Security Cutter Program (pictured above) is ‘making us more sustainable for the future and that of our Employees who will have job security for many years.’”

The Apprentices are following Maritime Technology Curriculum approved by the Mississippi Community College Board.

The curriculum comprises 10 to 12 classes in support of their craft, plus management/leadership classes.

The classes are being taught as non-credit, workforce classes, but the Apprentices will have the opportunity to convert their non-credit classes into credit through competency-based exams.

“The ‘concentration of a skilled’ shipbuilding workforce on the Mississippi Gulf Coast ‘is to U.S. shipbuilding what Annapolis is to the U.S. Navy,’” Halter Marine Executive Vice President of Operations Kevin Amis said. “All of these roles will prepare us for building the Polar Security Cutters.  ‘This is the right time to train Workers in Jackson County and along the Gulf Coast.’”

The Apprenticeship Program is a new workforce-training model for Halter Marine to ensure consistently high-quality shipbuilders, enabling Halter Marine to successfully pursue Federal Shipbuilding Contracts.

Apprentices will be assigned to Employee mentors to guide them throughout the program.

“Halter Marine plans to begin new Registered Apprentices each Fall for several years,” said Gayle Brown, MGCCC Grants and Special Projects Developer. “Additionally, six other crafts have been approved by the U.S. Department of Labor for Halter Marine to Apprentice, so when the company is ready, the college will stand up those programs as well.”

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