Halter Marine, Mississippi Community College Launch Apprenticeship Program

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) and VT Halter Marine are poised to launch an apprenticeship program next month that will help college students gain valuable trade skills and experience at Halter’s Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard. MGCCC and Halter Marine announced the partnership in March.

“We are excited about this new partnership with Halter Marine because it will offer our students new employment opportunities in a growing field,” MGCCC President Mary Graham said at the apprenticeship announcement ceremony. “Halter Marine is an outstanding company, and we are pleased to be working with them to train new shipbuilders.”

For Halter Marine, the apprenticeship program serves as a workforce training effort to recruit consistent, high-quality shipbuilding crew members. Apprentices will earn MGCCC academic credit, along with the chance of a long-term job at Halter Marine.

Initially, 50 students will serve in five separate programs at the shipyard (four groups of 10 in four-year programs, and a fifth group of 10 in a three-year program). All will start in August. Students will work in a chosen craft—for instance, welding or pipe-welding, based on availability and their initial assessment. After their four- or three-year term, students will graduate with an associate’s degree and potentially be offered a permanent position.

“Growing our own workforce is the main driver for creating an apprenticeship program,” said Bob Merchant, president and CEO of VT Halter Marine. “Companies that invest in apprenticeship programs benefit from the real advantage of a custom trained, highly skilled workforce. These employees are then keenly trained and ready to work in the ever-evolving field of shipbuilding.”

The application period for the first apprenticeship cohort ended June 30, with interviews scheduled during July. The program will begin in early August.

VT Halter Marine Executive Vice President of Operations Kevin Amis said the influx of young talent comes at a pivotal time in the shipyard’s history.

“All of these roles will prepare us for building three ice breakers,” Amis said. “This is the right time to train workers in Jackson County and along the Gulf Coast. The Polar Security Cutter program is making us more sustainable for our future and that of our employees who will have job security for many years.”