Three . two . one. and with that the ribbon was cut signifying the opening of the Southwest Regional Apprentice School at Naval Air Station, North Island in San Diego, Calif. on Wednesday, Aug. 11.
The school, which will support an inaugural class of 24 apprentices, officially begun classes Aug. 16. The apprentice school is a partnership between Naval Sea Systems Command’s Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility and the Southwest Regional Maintenance Center, along with Naval Air Systems Command’s Fleet Readiness Center Southwest and Southwestern College.
“This partnership is a very important investment in our future,” stated Captain Mark Whitney, Commander, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility. “You, the apprentices, are about to embark on a significant challenge. You are not going to be able to do this alone. It takes the support of your family, friends and instructors-we are here to facilitate your success.”
Over the past several years, PSNS & IMF has performed maintenance on carriers and submarines in San Diego, sending approximately 600 employees each month to the area during routine carrier maintenance availabilities. The quality of life for the work force, the increase of work load and the cost involved in sending people to the area was enough to create a business case for starting an apprentice program in San Diego. This idea also opened up the opportunity to partner with other naval activities, with Southwestern College as the educational partner-to create the first regional apprenticeship program in the southwest, developing highly skilled, journey-level workers and leaders to support the needs of multiple commands.
LaRon Lindsay, a new apprentice, is looking forward to his training, “I am looking forward to the memories this class will create today. Everything that we do and say will be the foundation for tomorrow.”
Located on the second floor of Building 73 at the Depot Maintenance Facility on Naval Air Station, North Island, the new apprentice school will feature both academic and shop training areas. The three-month renovation kicked off in March of 2010, resulting in four classrooms, a Computer Automated Design, or CAD, lab, and a 24 workstation computer lab with state-of-the-art computers and design software. A conference room containing video conferencing capabilities has also been added, benefiting not just the school, but the entire detachment for conferencing and training purposes. The location of the school is perfect due its close proximity to the waterfront where the work is — and the available space Building 73 had to offer.
The apprenticeship, a four-year cooperative education program, is modeled after the highly successful, 109-year-old program at PSNS & IMF’s Bremerton site. Upon completion of the program, graduates will receive a certificate of proficiency in leadership and supervision from Southwestern College and journey worker certificates from the Department of Navy and the Department of Labor in machinery, pipefitting, shipfitting or lifting and handling. The apprentice program pays the educational fees and students receive compensation for their time in class and during on-the-job training.
For more information on the Southwest Regional Apprenticeship Program, visit www.navsea.navy.mil/shipyards/puget and click on “Employment Opportunities,” or call (619) 545-2512.