Lt. Governor: Shipbuilding is very important to Mississippi

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Members of the Gulf State Shipbuilding Consortium met to brainstorm ideas about how to train shipbuilders.

Ingalls Director of Workforce Education and Training John Lotshaw said, "Without the trained people, you can't build a ship. It's that simple."

Building ships is a vital industry for our state; more than 24,000 people are employed by Mississippi Shipbuilders. Lt. Governor Tate Reeves said it is an industry state leaders must help grow.

"They will provide approximately $2.5 billion in gross domestic product for our state this year," Reeves said. "For a state whose total state budget is $5 billion, it's significantly important."

In order to continue building ships, there must be skilled workers. Community colleges work with shipbuilders to provide the training students needed to fill these very skilled jobs.

President of Gulf States Shipbuilding Consortium Byron Dunn said, "The training takes someone who knows absolutely nothing about the shipyard and gets them ready to come in as an entry level shipbuilder."

Depending on the program, it can take as little as four to 12 weeks to begin work. At Ingalls, entry level positions pay anywhere from $14 to $18 an hour.

"We think it's a great way for young a person to get involved, make money early, good wage, good career and good opportunities," Dunn said.

"We have a strong workforce today, but we need to continue to build it and continue to improve it," Reeves said.

The Lt. Governor told shipbuilding leaders the state will continue to help find incentives for businesses creating jobs for our state. With that promise, shipbuilding leaders say the future is bright.

"I think shipbuilding and ship repairs is going to be a critical industry for Mississippi and the Gulf Coast for the foreseeable future," Lotshaw said. "I don't see that changing."

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