I was excited to attend the commencement exercises for the Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding this past Saturday to celebrate the graduation of 137 apprentices, alongside an energetic group of family and friends.
Apprenticeship is an “Earn and Learn” training model that provides a unique combination of structured learning with on-the-job training and related instruction from apprenticeship training centers, technical schools or community colleges. The goal is to provide workers with advanced skill sets that meet the specific needs of employers and no one does it better than Newport News Shipbuilding.
Danny Hunley – Vice President of Operations at Newport News Shipbuilding, member of the Virginia Workforce Council and former member of the State Board for Community Colleges- served as the keynote speaker. An Apprentice School graduate himself, Mr. Hunley shared lessons learned during his 40 years of service at the shipyard and reminded the future shipbuilders of the importance of their daily work.
“You build the machines that protect our way of life,” he said. “Every morning that you wake up, young men and women in our Armed Forces are going to work in some far corner of the earth and potentially in harm’s way on one of your products. The thing that protects them from harm is the platform you build.”
The school offers four to eight-year, tuition-free apprenticeships in 19 trades and eight optional advanced programs. Apprentices work a regular 40 hour week and are paid for all work, including time spent in the classroom.
Through partnerships with Thomas Nelson Community College, Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University, the Apprentice School’s academic program provides the opportunity to earn associate degrees in business administration, engineering and engineering technology and a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering.
Additional information on Apprenticeships may be found on the Virginia Education Wizard Website.
Elizabeth Moran is the Apprenticeship Related Instruction & Workforce Credentials Coordinator with Virginia Community College System, Workforce Development Services.
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