Shipyard Staffing: Balancing Supply and Demand

By MarEx 2012-07-19 16:17:52

The good news is yards are hiring again. The bad news is qualified workers are hard to find.

By Art Garcia

Hiring is up at shipyards across the U.S., but wages are not and neither is the availability of qualified craftworkers to fill the jobs as welders, pipe fitters, electricians and other skilled positions. “In our region down here on the Gulf Coast our problem is people are hiring but we’re having a tough time getting qualified candidates,” said Travis Short, President of Horizon Shipbuilding in Bayou La Batre, AL. The skills’ shortage, he said, is across the board: “Young people coming up in the business today, we’re literally having to train. We’re currently training 50 percent of our new hires.” Over the past several months Horizon has been hiring every day and now is up to about 300 workers, double the number of a year ago.

“For the kinds of vessels we’re building, whether it’s yachts, patrol vessels or the technically challenging LNG supply vessels, you still have to look closely before you can find workers you can keep, who will actually do the work,” noted William Smith III, Partner and Vice President of Sales & Marketing at TY Offshore, formerly Trinity Yachts. “Unfortunately, I think it’s symptomatic of the whole country. We’re not getting the quality of people we used to get 10 and 20 years ago. Work ethic, pride, I don’t know what it is. We just have to look a lot harder and be more selective than we used t....

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