"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.

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12 thoughts on “"Shipyard Workers in Demand," by Alpha Unit”

  1. With so many blue collar jobs, one would be tempted to say there is no “economic oppression” going on. People are simply unwilling to do “manly” work, like cutting down trees, or working in a shipyard. Obviously, these jobs can’t be outsourced as easily as computer programming, or telemarketing.
    Of course, though, this isn’t the whole truth. It’s more complex than that.

    1. Jayson I’ve targeted tough jobs my whole life because they paid more. In the last 20 years office jobs requiring 1/100th effort and 1/3 the brain power pay more. Nobody wants to do labor because it doesn’t pay . That is the big number 1. We can’t have a conversation about labor when the money is shared incorrectly in a business. What ever that business does the people who actually do the work that makes up the business’ income get the least. And therefore the work and industry suffers as a whole. Cheap labor kills every industry.

  2. Even though companies pay great wages for college degrees. Those that do the actual work are offered far less. There are many industries with very few good tradesman left because american companies are drunk with the idea of cheap labor. I worked in heavy equipment for a while and even though the money we made was thru maintenance of heavy equipment office jobs paid more. It was difficult for the office workers to understand that I could do the’ye job but they wouldn’t last a minute in mine for the same price. I left the industry and never went back. Ship building is tough work in deplorable conditions. I expect that most of the underpaid work force doesn’t speak English.

  3. What I’m studying now, math, is very difficult. Sure, doing grunt work on a shipyard is hard, but not a lot of thinking is needed. Having to think constantly is hard work, in fact, one reason I can sleep at night is my brain is worn out. Anyhow, there are “prissy” office jobs, where not a lot of thinking is needed, yet the employee makes 20 times more than a construction worker etc..

    1. there are only a few jobs in a ship yard that dont require thinking. my point is fixing things requires more effort than working in any office. just the work invironment outside is worth twice an office job.

  4. What ever that business does the people who actually do the work that makes up the business’ income get the least. And therefore the work and industry suffers as a whole.

    Often a right wing argument is that the “higher educated” should be paid more, in order to provide incentive for advancement.
    For instance, what incentive is there to be a doctor, when the pay is a much as a janitor?
    I’m not saying I totally favor these arguments, but there worth discussing.

  5. Often grunt work jobs are easier if you practice meditation. I used to wash dishes at a restaurant, and the time went very slow. 8 hours seemed like 2 days. However, there are ways to speed up the time.

    1. i consider working outside in positions of heavy labor grunt work. i worked on heavy equipment . all the parts were replaced using a crane on the truck. i remember days of sludge hammer work being 8 hours long. ive washed dishes too. just boring not exhausting. ive done constuction before as well. used to be labor was non english speaking foriegners. now they have blead into all the trades. and americans found out you get what you pay for.

  6. Shipbuilding has become a lost art. I work for a maritime museum. I lament that everything’s made of plastic these days, and, things have become a lot more technical and computer-oriented.

  7. Agreed. shipbuilding is cutting and welding steel. no longer woodworking. i still believe the viking longboat to be the most influetual boat as it help vikings control the waterways of all of europe.

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