Maritime SF_L1_TG_coverBy Byron Dunn, President of Gulf States Shipbuilders Consortium The Gulf States Shipbuilders Consortium (GSSC) first developed a shipfitter curriculum in 2010 followed by training bootcamps in 2011 to bring standardized training to the maritime industry. After all three bootcamps experienced a 100-percent placement rate for trainees, demand for the program increased throughout the area. Based on this success, in 2012, GSSC approached NCCER about developing a jointly endorsed curriculum using many of the modules from GSSC's original curriculum. To fund this initiative, GSSC formed the National Maritime Education Council, and the result of these efforts was NCCER’s three-level Maritime Structural Fitter curriculum. Levels 1 and 2 of the curriculum were released in 2014, and Level 3 is expected to release later this year. A second curriculum, Maritime Pipefitting Levels 1 and 2, was also released in 2014. As a prerequisite to these courses, trainees complete the Maritime Industry Fundamentals curriculum, which combines GSSC’s Introduction to the Maritime Industry module with NCCER’s Core Curriculum. The first location to deliver NCCER’s Maritime Structural Fitter curriculum was AIDT, which is now an NCCER Accredited Training Unit under the sponsorship of GSSC. The first group of trainees began using the new curriculum in 2015, with seven trainees enrolled in the 12-week daytime program and 15 enrolled in the 15-week nighttime program. The curriculum provides the shipbuilding and repair industry with a valuable new pipeline of skilled workers and huge savings in training costs. The training dramatically cuts down on the cost of retesting and retraining fitters when they move from one shipyard to the next, because shipyards usually spend roughly $2,000 to $3,000 to test and certify each new employee. Before this program came along, no one offered standardized training in shipfitting. One of the reasons for this is because shipfitting is a very unique trade—shipfitters are like carpenters who work with steel. Its unique skill set requires some welding knowledge, some cutting and burning, pipefitting and other specific skills. Prior to GSSC, the only training available for shipfitters was done in house through various shipyards. However, because each shipyard offered different levels of training, there was no way to know exactly what skills each individual possessed. This created a real problem for both employers and craftsmen because when someone finished a job at one shipyard and then went to work at another yard, they had to retest as an entry-level employee. While we tried to put together an effective curriculum, I don’t think any of us thought we’d end up with 100-percent employment. With these results, why shouldn’t other craft training programs have 100-percent placement? If you don’t have 100 percent, then either you’re not meeting employers' needs or you’re putting the wrong people in the program. This is a model that should be replicated everywhere. For the rest of the story, read the Sponsor Spotlight article in the winter online issue of NCCER’s Cornerstone magazine.

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About NCCER

NCCER develops standardized construction and maintenance curricula and assessments with portable credentials. These credentials are tracked through NCCER’s National Registry which allows organizations and companies to track the qualifications of their craft professionals and/or check the qualifications of possible new hires. The National Registry also assists craft professionals by maintaining their records in a secure database.