Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) apprises that it has hosted Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., for a tour of The Apprentice School at the company's Newport News Shipbuilding division.
The visit provided Kaine an opportunity to meet with shipyard and Apprentice School leaders and discuss the importance of Career Technical Education (CTE) programs as an alternative to traditional four-year colleges.
Newport News Shipbuilding President Matt Mulherin and Newport News Shipbuilding Vice President of Operations Danny Hunley accompanied the senator during the tour, which showcased the facility's eight computer labs, two videoconferencing classrooms, physics lab and gymnasium.
During the tour, Kaine took the opportunity to interact with teachers and students in drafting and physics classes. He said he was impressed by the rigorous application process students go through to become apprentices in the program. "For 250 or so spaces a year, The Apprentice School will get 6,000 student applications from 24 states," he said. "Many have previous college experience. Many have previous military experience."
The visit to The Apprentice School aligns with Kaine's upcoming CTE Caucus, scheduled for Sept. 16, to inform senators and Senate staff about the value of technical education programs in the country. As a son of an iron worker and welder, Kaine has personally seen the importance of CTE programs.
"Career and technical education is critically important," he said, "and there's no better example of a CTE program in the country than the shipyard's apprenticeship program, which has been in existence for almost 100 years."
Mulherin noted that workforce development is critical to the shipbuilding business. "The Apprentice School is one avenue to develop great shipbuilders and great leaders, grounded with an excellent craft education," he said. "These apprentices are quickly gaining experience. With two Virginia-class submarines per year, the aircraft carriers on five-year centers and the refueling and overhaul on heel-to-toe cycles, they become pretty experienced very quickly."
The Apprentice School offers four-to eight-year, tuition-free apprenticeships in 19 trades and eight optional advanced programs. Apprentices work a regular 40-hour week and are paid for all work, including time spent in academic classes. Through partnerships with Old Dominion University, Thomas Nelson Community College and Tidewater Community College, the school's academic program provides the opportunity to earn associated degrees in business administration, engineering and engineering technology and bachelor's degrees in mechanical or electrical engineering.
Pictured: Sen. Tim Kaine (far right), D-Va., visited Newport News Shipbuilding’s Apprentice School on Wednesday. Also pictured are Newport News Shipbuilding Vice President of Operations Danny Hunley (far left), Apprentice School Director Everett Jordan (center) and apprentices Josh Gallo (seated, left) and Tia Johnson (seated, right). Photo by Chris Oxley/HII.