On Friday, August 17, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard graduated its first Cooperative Apprenticeship Program (CAP) class since 1993, when the program was halted by the threat of base closure and subsequent reductions in work force. The nine graduates began as a class of 12 in 1997 and have all accepted permanent, journeyman-level positions on the yard. Two years ago, each student received an associate's degree from a participating technical college. "A real bright spot in this program is the growth that we've seen in the past few years," said Captain Vernon "Tom" Williams
, USN, the Shipyard's commander. "It has increased in size from 12 in the first class, to 49 in 1998, 95 in 1999, 75 in 2000, and 68 in 2001. In six years, some of these nine-if not all of them-are going to find themselves in supervisory positions."
The Shipyard's apprenticeship program is made up of students from technical colleges located in New Hampshire, Maine
, and Vermont who are selected to train in various trades throughout the Shipyard. Students work at Portsmouth during the summers and then return to their respective colleges in the fall to complete courses for their associates degrees. Following graduation from college, they return to the Shipyard to work full-time.
The Shipyard's high-tech training facility in Building 170, which opened in August 2000, provides an exceptional learning environment, and has helped attract and retain qualified applicants. There are currently 213 men and women participating in the CAP, training in 23 trades. The Shipyard plans to take on in excess of 90 new apprentices per year for the next seven years. -- (By the Public Affairs Office, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard)