A new partnership between Tidewater Community College and the Virginia Ship Repair Association (VSRA) offers a Pre-Hire Training Program in Pipefitting for students seeking immediate employment in an in-demand career field.
The VSRA program is designed to help meet the workforce needs of regional shipbuilding and ship repair companies by providing hands-on training in pipefitting. Students enrolled in the program learn to install and maintain high and low pressure pipe systems and support equipment aboard waterborne or Naval vessels.
“The new VSRA pipefitter program provides another great onramp into a promising career for Hampton Roads jobseekers,” said Todd Estes, TCC’s interim associate vice president for business and corporate solutions. “This is a great example of what educators and industries can accomplish when they work together.”
After successful completion of the three-week pipefitting course, students are offered employment with a VSRA-member company. Currently, Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, is the primary employer hiring from this program.
“For several years now, our member companies have indicated a need for skilled pipefitters, but have also noted a gap in training opportunities to bring new workers into the trade,” said Bill Crow, president of VSRA. “The Pre-Hire Training Program in Pipefitting is a monumental step toward filling that gap. With curriculum developed by Newport News Shipbuilding and reviewed in-depth by a panel of subject-matter-experts from the Virginia Ship Repair Industry, the pre-hire pipefitting course represents the absolute gold standard of entry-level trade-training courses.”
The classes, which run from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays, simulate the shipyard’s first shift. All training is at the TCC Advanced Trades Training Facility on Mount Vernon Avenue in the Port Norfolk section of Portsmouth.
Students accepted into the program pay $250. The remaining cost of training is supported by VSRA and the employer.
Virginia Beach’s Michael Redden said he entered the program to become proficient in a trade. “It’s a good-paying job in a good career field,” he said. “It’s a crash course that teaches you useful skills and gives you a basic foundation so you’re ready to work when you step into the shipyard.”
The next cohort of pipefitting students will begin Nov. 6. Cohorts will be added on a continuous basis.
Through the Pre-Hire Marine Skills Training Program, TCC and VSRA also partner to provide training in marine welding.