"Shipyard Workers in Demand," by Alpha Unit

Ships are crucial to the day-to-day living most of us take for granted. But for some, sailing is in the blood, as they put it. Ships and shipyards loom large in the life of Jimmy Buffett.
Jimmy Buffett’s grandfather ran away from home at the age of 13. In the liner notes to his album Far Side of the World, Buffett tells how his grandfather jumped out of a second story window of his family home in Sydney, Nova Scotia, never to return. Three years later James Delaney Buffett became a whaling-ship cabin boy and went looking for his older brother, who had supposedly been shipwrecked. He eventually became a sea captain.
During the course of his travels he ended up on the Gulf Coast of the United States, living in a boarding house for sailors in Pascagoula, Mississippi. He got married to a local girl and began to raise a family. Their oldest was Jimmy Buffett’s father, J.D. Buffett. After serving as a mechanic in the Army Air Corps in World War II, J.D. Buffett moved his family to Mobile, Alabama, where he worked as a naval architect for the Alabama Dry Dock and Shipbuilding Company.
J.D. Buffett had met his wife while both worked at another Gulf Coast shipbuilding company, Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula. Ship production had begun there in 1939, just in time for World War II, when the shipyard put commercial production on hold and started building military vessels.
Ingalls has built troopships, destroyers, tankers, submarines, and aircraft carriers for the Navy and cutters for the Coast Guard. The company has been saying for some time now that there is a need on the Gulf Coast and nationwide for first class level craftsmen, especially welders, pipe welders, pipefitters, and shipfitters.
Shipfitters make molds and patterns for construction, basing their designs on the blueprints and schematics produced by the ship’s architects and drafters. They then make walls and structural parts and brace them in position for welding or riveting. Essential skills, indeed.
Companies and the military are so eager to recruit shipyard workers that they are investing in apprenticeship programs to grow a workforce for the industry. They find that plenty of their applicants require remedial math and English classes along with their blueprint-reading classes.
Hiring managers say meeting short- and long-term hiring goals is a challenge. The vocational pipeline from high school to industry has narrowed over the years, mainly because of the emphasis placed on college degrees. It’s the same thing they’ve been saying in the skilled trades for years now.
The investment does pay off, though, with more awareness being raised about the shortage of skilled tradesmen all over the country – and awareness being raised about good shipbuilding jobs, in particular.