PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Workforce development training is about to get stronger in South Mississippi. Wednesday, Ingalls Shipbuilding officially opened the Haley Reeves Barbour Maritime Training Academy.
The more than $20 million maritime training academy now sits just a few feet away from Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula. Ingalls Shipbuilding leaders said the center is ready to help build a world class workforce.
"When you start talking about workforce training, you are talking about the opportunity to help them be their best and be successful every day," Huntington Ingalls Industries President Mike Petters said.
The academy bears the name of former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. He was honored Wednesday for helping acquire the Hurricane Katrina community development block grant funding and support to get the building up and running.
"It is a great honor while you are still living that somebody names a building for you, but it is more important than that. This symbolizes the state's commitment to workforce training, skills training to improve the skills and the quality of the work for people so they can get better, higher paying jobs," Barbour said.
The building is 70,000 square feet. Inside the facility are state-of-the-art equipment, 24 classrooms, three computer labs, library and a bookstore. Students will be trained through an apprentice program that offers nearly a dozen crafts.
"This is where you learn shipbuilding and learning a craft and becoming an electrician and welder. It is a great place to start, and we are looking for people to come here and make a career of it, so it is a pretty big investment," Ingalls Shipbuilding President Irwin Edenzon.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College will continue to partner with Ingalls Shipbuilding to make this investment a success and hopefully expand the training program in the future.
"It is a two year program now. And what we anticipate is to partner with some of other universities, for those individuals who want to pursue a bachelor's degree to add that additional training out here at this center," MGCCC President Mary Graham said.
Four hundred students will enroll in the school the first year and classes will begin in January. Ingalls plans to add a multipurpose building for meetings and to host speakers.