Workforce Development

RIMTA outlines plans for GWB grant money

PBN FILE PHOTO/BRIAN McDONALD
THE R.I. MARINE TRADES ASSOCIATION will use the $142,788 grant from the Governor's Workforce Board to form an apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship program to train workers in Rhode Island's marine trades. Above: Christopher Whalen uses a torch to cut steel at Senesco Marine, where he has trained thanks to a separate federally-funded, state-managed job training program.
Posted 3/29/13

BRISTOL – The R.I. Marine Trades Association has outlined its plans for the $142,788 grant it received from the Governor’s Workforce Board earlier this month.

The association plans to use the funds to launch a pre-apprenticeship program and an apprenticeship program for Rhode Island’s marine trades. These program are, according to RIMTA, first-of-their-kind in Rhode Island and some of the first in the nation.

“These programs complete the workforce-development pipeline our industry needs to grow and thrive,” Wendy Mackie, CEO of RIMTA, said in prepared remarks. “Not only are these programs a sound foundation for the Rhode Island marine trades: they also open up opportunity for individuals looking to build careers in this industry that is so important to the Ocean State.”

The pre-apprenticeship program with consist of 205 hours of training for those 18 years and older. The program is designed to “give participants a pathway to paid employment in an entry-level position, or to post-secondary or apprenticeship training,” according to a RIMTA release.

RIMTA plans to work with partners including the International Yacht Restoration School, the New England Institute of Technology and Hinckley Yachts to give participants hands-on skills training in entry-level areas.

Experience will include: painting, varnishing, composites, hauling, rigging, fork and travel lift operation, shrink wrapping, and winterizing and commissioning. Program participants can also expect to receive training in safety procedures, knot tying, tool handling, industry terminology and “overall job readiness skills.”

In order to ensure this program translates into real job opportunities, RIMTA said that five Rhode Island companies already have committed to hiring available candidates for job openings.

The apprenticeship program, a brain child of Hinckley Co.’s Yard Manager Guy Gauvin, hopes to allow younger workers to learn alongside “master journeyman” to prepare for the retirement of the industry’s aging population.

“Although the apprenticeship model is common in the boating business in places such as New Zealand, it is a rarity for the United States,” said RIMTA, adding that at Hinckley, 85 percent of workers will be retiring within 15 years.

The program is designed to help individual apprentices develop on-the-job skills in carpentry, rigging, electronics, electrical engineering, painting and other areas.

The term of the apprenticeship can range between two and five years, depending on the area they choose to specialize in.

According to a RIMTA release, Hinckley will be the first company to accept apprenticeship applicants, and the first group of applicants will begin their training in January 2014. Hinckley plans accept up to six apprentices every six months.

RIMTA said that other employers already have expressed interest in joining the program and added that they expect to have additional employers in place within the next year.

Ideal apprenticeship candidates are 18 years or older and have “some exposure to the trades,” or are graduates of marine training schools such as New England Tech or IYRS.

“Industry-specific high school programs are already in place in Rhode Island and will act as feeders to the applicant pool for both apprenticeship programs,” said the release, pointing specifically to marine trades programs at Warwick Area Career and Technical Center, and Chariho Career and Technical Center.

RIMTA’s $142,788 grant was part of $1.97 million in Innovative Partnership grants awarded by the Governor’s Workforce Board earlier in March. The grants were designed to fund programs that develop career opportunities for students, out-of-school youth and un- or under-employed adults.

Applications for the pre-apprenticeship program will be posted at the RIMTA website in mid-April and applications are due by the end of May. The first cycle of the program is expected to begin in mid-July with 10 participants. The second cycle is slated for February 2014, also with 10 participants.

Applications for the Marine Trades Apprenticeship Training Program will be posted on the RIMTA website in September with completed applications due in late October. Hinckley will accept up to six applicants every six months and other employers are expected to join the program within the year.

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