Shipbuilding apprentice program prepares future shipbuilders

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The future of shipbuilding is getting a head start on being ready for the work world. Saturday at the Coast Coliseum in Biloxi more than 160 men and women graduated from the Ingalls Shipbuilding Apprentice program.

Company officials say for the last two to four years, students have experienced a mixture of classroom and on the job training for skills like ship fitting, welding and electrical work.

"You get to learn in the classroom and turn around and immediately apply it in work environment. It makes all the difference in the world. [It] really helps you retain it and understand a lot better," Outstanding Apprentice Justin Harris said.

"When folks get down on the deck plate, they not only understand how to do their job as a craftsperson but they understand what we're trying to achieve as a company, the culture we're trying to create, our quality standards, how we protect our shipbuilders and keep everybody safe. The program is critical to the shipyard."

The graduates have been working at either the Ingalls Shipbuilding Pascagoula, Gulfport or Avondale sites. Officials say the apprenticeship is a paid program.

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