Port Apprenticeship Program Revived to Meet Employment Demand

PH COMM.6.26.2019-64

Caption: Port Houston 2019 Apprentices

Port Houston partnered with TransPORTS, the U.S. Department of Labor, and San Jacinto College in 2018 to revive its Apprenticeship Program. The organizations worked collaboratively to create curriculum to enable apprentices to develop the necessary skills to become certified mechanics or journeyman electricians upon completion.

The seven-year apprenticeship program combines on-the-job training with academic instruction, which allows the student to put their academic skills to practical use almost immediately. The program includes three years of classroom training and seven years of on-the-job training. For the first three years, classes and the training are administered concurrently.

When the program launched, it was only available to internal port employees. The program was expanded this year to partner with local high school STEM and maritime programs to further develop community engagement. Additionally, five new apprentices were added, three of which are recent graduates from Deer Park and LaPorte High Schools.

“Apprenticeships are a high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction; and a portable, nationally-recognized credential,” said Port Houston Training and Development Manager Carolyn Ashley. “Port Houston recognizes the long-term value of apprenticeships as a workforce retention and development tool.”

The Apprenticeship Program will assist Port Houston in meeting future needs for well-trained, qualified  workers. In a market where unemployment is at an all-time low and the demand for skilled qualified workers is only getting more competitive, Port Houston had to find a way to maintain their success. The program is an investment in the port and its employees, said Port Houston Human Resources Manager Josh Northcutt.

“We are utilizing equipment that is not native to our region and we need skilled employees who can maintain and repair that equipment,” said Northcutt. “The employees who are capable and skilled in this respect are mostly located in Georgia, Virginia and California – recruiting and relocating employees outside of Texas is not cost-effective, so we had to find a way to home grow our own employees.”

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