Home Stretch, LLC
Teaming Up to Meet Growing Demand for Skilled Workers
Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula is the largest manufacturing employer in Mississippi and a major contributor to the economic growth of the state. For more than 74 years, the employees of Ingalls Shipbuilding facilities have pioneered the development and production of technologically advanced, highly capable warships for the surface Navy fleet, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, and foreign and commercial customers. Ingalls produces over 70% of the Navy fleet of warships and is currently the largest supplier of U.S. Navy surface combatants.
Ingalls, driven by the business cycle and customer orders for ships, had a strong demand for workers with very specific marine craft skills. To meet the cost, quality and schedule needs of its customers, Ingalls needed hundreds of shipfitters and welders to join its shipyard. This demand for workers outpaced the ability of the workforce development department to recruit and train new employees. The company contacted the MEP.ms Center at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC), a NIST MEP affiliate, for assistance.
The MEP.ms Center at MGCCC helped Ingalls to develop and implement a pre-employment program that used the community college facilities and equipment to train workers. The organizations worked to remove barriers to the training process to ensure the rapid recruitment of skilled workers. Ingalls agreed to provide the necessary materials for the training free of charge. When the MEP.ms Center at MGCCC struggled to find experienced instructors to teach the welding classes, Ingalls provided members of its training staff to supplement the effort. When the volume of students failed to meet Ingalls’s needs, the MEP.ms Center at MGCCC opened additional opportunities across its various campuses. The MEP.ms Center at MGCCC also connected with state officials to free up work training grants for the program. The pre-employment program helps Ingalls meet its skill and worker demand, and it helps workers acquire valuable training for careers with above average wages and competitive benefits packages. Ingalls saved on training costs and successfully maintained its production schedules. This effort, in direct response to an employer’s need and in close partnership with the largest private employer in Mississippi, is an example of what can happen when partners work together and it serves as a model for future endeavors. Ingalls plans to leverage its partnership with the MEP.ms Center at MGCCC moving forward. It has plans for a new maritime academy and additional pre-hire programs, among other initiatives.
• Expected to train 90 prospective employees
• 40 trainees enrolled in the pre-employment program
• Cost-savings of several thousand dollars
“The willingness and ability of the MEP.ms Center to help us meet our demand for workers has been impressive. They are directly contributing to our ability to be successful in the rapid build-up of our workforce.”
— John Lotshaw, Director, Workforce Education