Free program offers welding training, job at Ingalls - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Free program offers welding training, job at Ingalls

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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

It is a unique opportunity for you to learn welding skills, then, get a job at Ingalls. The Pascagoula shipyard has formed a partnership with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to provide welding classes and put people to work. And the training is absolutely free.

Right now, 80 students are spending five hours a day getting intense training in welding.    Some of them have never picked up a torch before.

The students are enrolled in a first-of-its-kind welding course called "Pre-Hire Employment Welding Training". The classes started in September to help fill a need for more than 400 skilled welders at Ingalls.

"We need several hundred welders near term and over the next year, we're going to need over 5,000 people in all crafts," said John Lotshaw, Ingalls Workforce Training and Development Director. "We realized we didn't have the experienced welders that used to exist in the workforce, so we had to grow our own."

The Pascagoula shipyard teamed-up with MGCCC to offer the training for free.

"It's great! It's worked out really well. We're working hand in hand. Ingalls is supplying materials and supplies for us. They're also doing the recruiting for this program," said Larry Porter, MGCCC Master Trainer.

Students who are eligible for the program can receive up to 300-hours of training. They can work at their own pace. Once they pass a certification skills test, they can go right to work at Ingalls.

"If they complete it successfully, they are guaranteed a job making $35,000 a year," said Lotshaw.

Kelly Labit is one of four graduates of the program. She completed it in only four weeks, and started her new job at Ingalls on Tuesday.

"They told me I passed all my tests and I can go ahead and start work and it was very exciting, very exciting," said Labit. "You don't have to have a lick of experience to jump in on it. So it's good for people who want to have a career and they're looking to do more."

"The people that leave this program and work at Ingalls, they're going to have a skill set that's going to be good for life. Once you learn how to weld, you're going to know how to weld," said Lotshaw.

The welding classes are being offered at four MGCCC campuses: The Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center in Gulfport, Jackson County, Lucedale, and Perkinston. There are still slots available at those locations.

To apply, you must be at least 18 years old, pass a basic math and reading test, pass a drug test, pass an agility test, and have a GED or high school diploma.

The program is funded by Ingalls Shipbuilding, Mississippi Development Authority, and the Mississippi Community College Board. For more information, call the Ingalls Employment Hotline at (888) 935-1507.

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