Shipbuilders move ahead with workforce development initiative
Leading American shipbuilders and repairers are moving ahead with plans for a national Maritime Workforce Development program overseen by a National Maritime Education Council.
Spurred by the high cost of recruiting, hiring and training the thousands of skilled shipbuilding and ship repair professionals needed by shipyards, industry leaders launched a national initiative called the Lighthouse Campaign at the Shipbuilders Council of America's fall meeting October 26, 2011, in Biloxi, Mississippi.
On December 6-7, 2011, the leadership team of the Lighthouse Campaign sent representatives to a meeting at NCCER headquarters in Alachua, Fla., to finalize the plans for the development of the Maritime Workforce Development program and to establish the National Maritime Education Council.
Increased return on investment is one significant benefit of a formal workforce development system as is a larger pipeline of technically skilled workers. According to a recent survey, a similar program in the construction industry developed by NCCER resulted in double-digit improvements in terms of productivity, reductions in turnover costs, absenteeism, injuries and rework.
NCCER is a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) education foundation created by the construction industry to develop standardized curriculum with portable credentials and to help address the skilled construction workforce shortage.
NCCER is recognized by the industry as the standard for developing the construction and maintenance craft professional.
NCCER was selected as the development partner for the shipbuilding initiative because it has developed training and assessments in over 60 craft areas and has over 4,000 training locations in the U.S. for the construction and maintenance industries.
NCCER's curricula and assessments have portable, nationally-recognized credentials that include transcripts, certificates and wallet cards tracked through NCCER's National Registry.
NCCER experience and resources will help give maritime craft professionals the credentials they deserve and ensure that individuals coming into the industry get the training needed to succeed.
Mike Torrech, president of American Maritime Holdings, in speaking of the importance of the national program stated, "This is the best approach to 'total' workforce development that I've seen in my 30 plus years in the business."
The Lighthouse Campaign, is a drive to raise funds for the development of standardized training curriculum and assessments that will be the foundation of the national program. The drive targets shipbuilding and repair and offshore marine companies, skilled trade providers, regional and national trade associations, and equipment manufacturers, as the major investors.
To date, the following companies and organizations have provided formal commitments or contributions to the campaign: Alaska Ship and Drydock, American Maritime Holdings, Bollinger Shipyards, Gulf States Shipbuilders Consortium (GSSC), Ingalls Shipbuilding, Signal International, Quality Shipyard, Virginia Ship Repair, VT Halter Marine, and WESCO Gas & Welding Supply.
The National Maritime Council will meet March 28-29, 2012, in Mobile, Alabama in conjunction with the GSSC's 2012 annual meeting. At that time, the National Maritime Council interim board, comprised of initial contributors to the Lighthouse Campaign, will draft bylaws, establish committees and formalize the group's structure. The interim board will provide oversight until a permanent board is installed at the group's fall meeting.
According to John Lotshaw, director of Workforce Training and Development at Ingalls Shipbuilding, "This training initiative, designed for the maritime industry, is long overdue. It can provide the trained personnel resources to allow our industry to cut costs and be more competitive. The time is now for maritime industry to invest in their future."