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Featured Article: Solving the Skilled Labor Gap Through Training & Education

U.S. naval ships are among the most complex weapon systems in the world. Each ship is in need of constant equipment and system upgrades as well as ongoing maintenance. However, the U.S. is experiencing a skilled labor gap that makes staffing for these positions, especially locally, a challenge. With continued concerns of an aging workforce, many of the available incoming workers in maritime hubs lack the necessary training and certification. This skilled worker shortage drives up labor costs across the industry as projects are delayed and dates are pushed back.

There are a few different approaches to solving the skilled labor gap. Since the local workforce may lack the skills necessary for ship repair, one solution is to offer training and certification so that workers can acquire the skills needed. Providing training – which can be done through digital solutions or in-person – is an efficient way to support both the ship repair industry and the local workforce at the same time. Training teaches workers the terminology, structure, systems, tasks, and overall culture of the ship repair industry, and of a given job in particular, providing a framework of knowledge to build on.

Workforce management and staffing companies like Workrise – formerly known as Shipyard Staffing – have embraced incoming worker training as a way to help fill the gap. Workrise, which supports the defense industry through a workforce specializing in maritime construction and repair, has more than twenty years of experience witnessing the challenges facing the industry. Our company realized that we could do so much more than simply place the talent for ship repair. We can create the talent needed, and widen opportunities, by teaching in-demand skills.

 A good example is Workrise’s entry-level Fire Watch training program. Through an analysis of soft skills and experience, high-potential candidates are identified – those with the motivation, integrity, and drive to succeed in a career in maritime construction and repair. After a 60-90 day training program, candidates then have the opportunity to take the next step into higher-skilled positions in painting, insulation, rigging, scaffolding, and more. Participants can grow rewarding careers in ship repair with the ongoing support of mentorship, continued placement, further training, and resume development.

As more staffing companies embrace and develop training programs, the result will be a larger, more skilled workforce for employers and expanded career pathways for local talent. Programs like these provide career development to the next generation – with valuable training and upward mobility in the shipyard industry. Instead of living paycheck-to-paycheck or job to job, workers begin to develop career paths with growth potential.


In November 2014, Rod joined the team at Shipyard Staffing, now known as Workrise, as a Board member, where he continues to dedicate himself to providing quality staffing in the marine industry. Today, Rod is sought after as a marine industry Consultant and Subject Matter Expert (SME) in developing solutions for Naval ship repair.

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