Virginia Ship Facility Looks For Coast Workers

Ten representatives from Norfolk Naval Shipyard spent Saturday in Biloxi, interviewing potential employees, people like Joel Bowie who was laid off from Ingalls last year and has been searching for a job ever since.

"It's just gone flat here lately," Bowie said. "The last couple of years, it seems like the downturn and especially since 9-11, everything's gotten so locked down, it just looks like everything's shifted, it's moved and you have to move with the work sometimes."

Norfolk Naval Shipyard needs to hire more than 800 workers. Human Resource Managers say they're having a tough time finding qualified workers in the Virginia area.

"We started back in September," explained Michele Jordan, a Human Resource Manager at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. "We've done job fairs in Puget Sound in Washington. We've done them up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, as well as Charleston."

Now, they're targeting the Coast because of the shipbuilding industry. People said the job fair couldn't have come at a better time.

"I've been laid off and looking to re-locate," Moss Point resident Earline Haynes said. "I have a daughter in Virginia, so when I heard it on the news...Norfolk, Virginia, I was like 'hey, good opportunity.' "

Others, like Jan and Dan Newport, checked out the job fair even though, they don't want to leave the Coast.

"I would love to stay down here, but as long as there's not anything here, you know, you have to go to where you can make a living," Jan Newport said.

Many former Ingalls workers say they're tired of worrying about layoffs. Norfolk Naval Shipyard is somewhat different because its federal, and most of its jobs are permanent.

" That's what I'm looking for," Bowie said. "You know, you got a family, you look for the paycheck cause you have to support your family."