Northrop Grumman President Talks About Future of Shipbuilding Industry

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -  Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding President, Michael Petters, says he focused on one primary goal in building up the industry.

"Our approach at Northrop Grumman is to invest in the workforce, invest in the training,"

Petters, says the company is exploring new ways of investing in its workforce.

"One of the things I see happening across the country is that states are beginning to realize that when it comes to workforce development the community colleges in those state are where the action is," says Petters.

He wants to work with coast community colleges to tie-in courses teaching skills that can be used in the shipyard, courses like software design.

"I can go and hire somebody that has graduated from that class and has taken those courses.  I know they are now trained,  and on day one they are ready to do work for me," says Petters.

To recruit and retain people, Petters says the company must be a partner in addressing a very pressing need for workers, affordable housing and insurance.

"We're going to be a player in helping your area create the affordability around housing," says Petters.

Though no final plans have been announced, Petters says the company is actively pursuing partnerships and housing options to give workers some relief.

Petters says the coast is full of skilled shipyard workers.  Consistent training aimed at long-term retention, he says, will keep the company moving forward.

"We have a program in each of the shipyards called a master shipbuilding program.  A master shipbuilder is somebody's who's been working in that shipyard for 40 years with unbroken services.  We have over 700 master-builders in three states.

Petters hopes to grow that number and keep the shipbuilders coming to the coast.

The company has also joined the Gulf States Shipbuilders Consortium to recruit people to fill 4,000 jobs in the industry.