Newport News residents eligible for free fast-track shipbuilding and repair courses

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A fast-track skilled training program for shipbuilding and ship repair is looking for applicants in Newport News to apply.

The Hampton Roads Workforce Council is partnering with the Virginia Ship Repair Association to provide free training for residents living in the city who are interested in shipbuilding careers. The program is for people who have faced financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Christina Brooks, who is the senior director of youth services for the HRWC, says they’re excited to be able to offer this partnership.

“When we’re in these unprecedented times and uncertainty, it’s a wonderful thing to have these fast-track programs that lead into high-paying career industry. It’s an industry that’s going to keep moving and going in these unprecedented world events we’re living in right now,” she said.

Brooks says the training is supported by the city’s CARES Act funding.

“The training program that is coordinated by the association provides high-quality training in a short amount of time,” she said. “An individual can go into their program, get their credentialing, and be out by about a month. They will be fully done by the end of December.”

Training for the program will cover welding, electrical, sheet metaling, coatings, and outside machinist positions.

Upon completion, those enrolled will receive certifications for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) 10-Hour Maritime, Emergency First Response and VSRA Marine Trade Training Level I.

Brooks says that getting this training and those certifications can be difficult. The industry is looking to fill positions.

“This is also a significant need for industries coming to tell us they need thousands and thousands of workers to fill our ship repair industry and industry needs here in the region. At the same time, we know there’s a significant need for our workforce to get the training that will lead to families’ needed wages in a fairly quick amount of time. It’s a great partnership all around,” she said.

Filling these jobs is crucial, according to Brooks, who also says the local industry not only helps build the country’s Navy but also helps keep the East Coast’s biggest port functioning.

“We’re responsible for [moving] product through 29 shipping lanes across the world, so it is imperative we have a highly-qualified, well-trained workforce to keep these very vital industries moving,” she said.

Brooks hopes that people will take advantage of this free opportunity that will lead to helping the economy grow.

“This is critical for not only the welfare of our region but also our country and the international economy,” she said.

The deadline to apply is Nov. 21.

To apply, call Brooks at 757-314-2370. Those applying need to show they have experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic.