MGCCC partnership with Halter Marine will create apprentice program

Authored by: John Fitzhugh

Getting paid to learn would be every student’s dream.

A new apprenticeship program between Halter Marine and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College creates that opportunity.

The program will begin in the fall with 25 students in each of the five fields. Eventually, it will expand to 11 fields.

When Halter Marine in Pascagoula signed a contract to build two icebreakers for the U.S. Coast Guard, it created the need for a larger workforce.

It also created the opportunity for this new partnership.

“The apprenticeship program will directly tie in because it will custom train individuals for the fields that we need in order to produce the Polar Security Cutters,” said Ron Baczkowski, CEO of Halter Marine.

The first programs will be in ship fitting, welding, pipefitting, pipe welding and electrical.

The two organizations signed the agreement in a ceremony at the shipyard on Friday.

“The great thing about this partnership is these students are being paid by VT Halter Marine because they are productive employees,” said Jonathan Woodward, Executive Vice President of Teaching, Learning and Community Campus for MGCCC. “So, in the end, it reduces the cost for the students while they are earning a livable wage.

“This really puts the pieces of the puzzle together of workforce needs and educational relevance.”

This expansion of the trained workforce will help more than just Halter Marine, according to Baczkowski.

“It’s not just one shipyard that benefits; it’s many. So when we build a workforce, it has the portable skills that can go to any of the marine industries or shipyards across the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” he said.

Using an apprenticeship program is not a new concept, but it is one that is making a comeback for job training.

“Apprenticeship is the way forward, for not just shipbuilding, but many other industries across the Coast,” Woodward said. “We’re already doing it in the banking industry, hospitality is upcoming. So really any industry that wants to ensure great training needs to begin to look at, if they’re not already, apprenticeship models.”

We can discuss a photo image for the story. There’s not a photo attached to the link. I was thinking of both the MGCCC logo and the Halter Marine logo in one photo. Let me know what you think.

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