Seacoast Shipyard Association – July 25, 2018

Seacoast Shipyard Association – 7/25/18

A separate attendance list will be published

0800-Opening Presentation: John Joyal-Chairman Seacoast Shipyard Association (SSA)

John started his presentation explaining the purpose and partnerships of the SSA.  He stated that they are currently focused on touch labor, and they are working with companies, such as QED and Life Cycle Engineering. Their partnerships with these companies are helping SSA find the resources and possible programs needed to support the Portsmouth Shipyard and other shipyards facing similar problems. John stated that the feeder system for shipyard workers no longer exists.  Many vocational schools have phased out many of the programs that helped keep the shipyard vibrant up until now.

Issues the shipyards are facing:

  • Aging workforce
  • Lack of technically skilled workers
  • Lack of skill sets and credentials
  • Costs of recruiting, testing, and training
  • Competition within the industry
  • Calls for the enhanced Navy 355 ship plan


0815-Opening Presentation John Rhatigan-Chairman Marine Machinery Association (MMA)

John also started his presentation with a brief explanation of the organization.  John explained we are all seeing the same constraints throughout the industry.  These problems exist in all manufacturing firms in the US due to the lack of skilled labor available.  Larger companies, such as HII, Lockheed, NAVAIR, and EB are all having trouble sourcing a skilled workforce they need to support the volumes of ships that will be required to be built in the next few years.  John also spoke about the other untapped source for skilled laborer’s. The female labor force is has been overlooked for years in our industry, and companies like NNSB have even suggested raising their trying to raise their current ratio from 30% female employees to 50% in the upcoming years.

0830Presentation from Paul O’Connor-IBEW Business Manager – Washington DC

Below are a few take-aways from his presentation:

  • Focused on finding employment for shipyards
  • In the past, they would waive the education needed and use aptitude tests
    • This method did not produce sufficient results
  • They then changed their old model to a new model requiring the employee to have sufficient training and skill needed to support their field of work
  • They are now allowed to bypass some of the government processes, which is usually required in the hiring process. This helps streamline the process and allows for a more efficient hiring program.
  • Portsmouth Shipyard employees 7,000 people currently

0900 Presentation from Audrey with National Maritime Education Council (NMEC)

Highlights from Audrey’s presentation:

  • Located in Birmingham, Alabama
  • Main purpose is to establish a training program for all shipyard blue collar workers.They do this to help establish a pool of qualified workers who could work in any shipyard without additional training.
  • They are in search of grants for educating a labor force for the partnering shipyards
  • This is a member-based program established in 2012
  • Their members would include shipyards, educators, suppliers, and skill trade providers
  • There are 24 members, including the following: Austal, Bollinger, HII, MHI, etc.
  • They work through a national infrastructure:
    • High Schools
    • Community and Tech Colleges
    • Associated Programs
    • Shipyards

1000-Open Discussion

At this time the floor was opened up to a town hall like discussion of what can be done locally to help fix the problem.  Many possible solutions were discussed including the following:

  • Invite kids and Parents to open houses. Experts have found that many times parents are the biggest obstacle to a child working at a shipyard because they don’t understand what work is done there and the lifetime income that can be achieved.
  • Private industry has said they would pay for the transportation costs to get students to come look at their facilities (this came from one of our newest members-Arundel Machine).
  • Beef up the vocational schools shop programs, many grants are available from vendors.For example the welding suppliers like Lincoln and Hobart.
  • Get guidance counselors on board with the idea that its ok to become a blue collar worker, not every kid will succeed by attending college.
  • Someone suggested doing a study of what a child can make after attending a shipyard apprentice program vs. costs of attending college and potential pay.
  • Two separate instances female welders were commended for their attention to detail, something great that has come out of the labor issue at shipyards.

1130- Wrap-up

It was agreed by all that there is hope to reverse the trend of finding talented workers to work in a shipyard in the northeast.  Politicians, school boards and local manufacturers including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard all agreed to meet quarterly to implement some of the items we discussed.  It was noted that we had a father of a HII board member in attendance.  He was impressed with what he saw discussed at this meeting and was planning on discussing it with his son.

1215 –Working Lunch

1330-Meeting Adjourned