12 Graduate from GSSC Shipfitter Boot Camp and Have Jobs Waiting for Them.
In November 2011, 18 individuals started an intensive 10-week shipfitter boot camp that was developed by the Gulf States Shipbuilders Consortium (GSSC) to prepare workers for entry-level employment in the maritime industry. Before an invitation was extended to participate in the training program, candidates completed prequalification activities that included drug testing, WorkKeys® assessments, industry presentations, shipyard tours, and interviews.
On Thursday, March 1, the 12 individuals who successfully completed the pilot program participated in a graduation ceremony hosted by Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) at its Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center (AMTC) in Gulfport, Mississippi. A job fair followed the event giving graduates an opportunity to interview with representatives from area shipyards including Bollinger Shipyards, Ingalls Shipbuilding, Trinity Yachts, and VT Halter Marine. All 12 of the graduates were offered employment.
GSSC’s Shipfitter Boot Camps are part of a larger project—funded through a US Department of Commerce Katrina Grant—to develop a standardized, performance-based shipfitting curriculum with a portable skill certificate that is recognized by its members along the Gulf Coast and can be used by high schools, colleges, shipyards, and skilled trade providers to train individuals on core shipfitting skills. Local industry partners involved in developing the curriculum included Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT), Alabama Technology Network (ATN), Austal USA, BAE Systems, Bollinger Shipyards, C&G Boatworks, Ingalls Shipbuilding, Signal International, Trinity Yachts, VT Halter Marine, and WESCO.
“The great thing about the boot camp is that graduates have an excellent chance of being hired by one of the participating partners,” Cliff Beardsley, instructor for the shipfitter training, said. “I think that speaks volumes about this kind of training.” To date, GSSC has hosted two pilot Shipfitter Boot Camps. A third is scheduled to begin March 26, 2012, at MGCCC in Gulfport. Mark Landry, MGCCC Workforce director in Jackson and George counties, said the program is excellent. “Because this curriculum was designed by industry for industry, it assures that the participants are coming out of the training ready to begin entry-level jobs in shipbuilding and metal fabrication. It is absolutely one of the best curricula we have ever used.”