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Austal Apprenticeship Program 2015 Application Essay

Editor's note: This is the second installment in an ongoing series looking at training programs in the Mobile area designed specifically to fill available, skilled-trade positions with local employers.

The job: Austal USA Apprenticeship Program

What it means: Twice per year, Austal invites prospective employees to apply for its four-year, GI Bill- and U.S. Department of Labor-accredited apprenticeship program in Mobile, providing paid classroom and on-the-job training in fabrication, pipe, electrical or fitout skills.

What it gets you: Apprenticeship positions come with full Austal benefits, and successful completion results in a journeyman's license.

Starting pay: $13.11 per hour, eligible for raises every 90 days for the first two years and then every six months after that

Earning potential: On average, hourly pay can reach $18-$19 by the end of the first two years, and 4-year program graduates earn top Class A pay, currently capped at $24.62/hour but subject to change

Who the program targets: Military veterans, service members and recent technical training graduates, including recent high school graduates

Why are veterans targeted?: In a word: leadership. Austal officials view past military service as proof of dependability, critical thinking skills, ability to take instruction, understanding that rules and procedures exist for a reason and experience. Hiring veterans also creates an automatic mentorship program that pairs the life experience and leadership skills of veterans with younger, less experienced hires. Of course they bring trade knowledge to the table, but they also become real-life examples of dos and don'ts on a job site and how to conduct oneself in a work environment.

How it works: If accepted for one of the 85 available positions in this latest round, you'll spend three to six weeks, depending on experience, in initial training for your first "tour of duty" in the yard. That first tour is another five to six weeks designed to acclimate you to the shipyard before rotating back to the AIDT Maritime Training Center for classroom instruction. After that, rotations from classroom to the yard will continue every five to six weeks through the first two years. The last two years are strictly on-the-job training while earning the hours needed for your journeyman's certification.

How to apply: Austal will offer a one-day online application window on Friday, March 20. Interested candidates can visit www.austaljobs.com, or click here, on that date only to start the process. On that day, the open positions will be listed as "apprentice" and anyone interested applies there. The program actually begins June 1 for those candidates selected.

Why is the lag time so long between application and start date?: Time to prepare. Individuals who did not complete high school could have enough time to earn their GED, the minimum educational requirement. Those who did earn their GED or have a high school diploma have a little extra time to pick up additional skills via trade programs offered through the likes of AIDT and Bishop State Community College, even if they're only courses that hone essential skills often referred to as "soft" skills.

Why are "soft skills" an issue?: "This is an incredibly competitive process, and (applicants) should do everything they can to best position themselves," said Ryan Lee, Austal USA's workforce development manager. "Soft skills are a systemic issue, not just with Austal or with Mobile area employers but industry and nationwide," he said, noting they include:

  • Work ethic
  • Dependability
  • Basic comprehension skills
  • Ability to take instruction and follow rules
  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership skills

What if my schedule does not permit me to apply for this round?: The company currently offers two apprenticeship classes per year, meaning the next should roll around in September. To date, class sizes have ranged from 50-100, but Lee said 85 is a "comfortable" number, and Austal would consider increasing frequency to as many as four per year before adding more members to each class.

Want to know more?: Click here.

Source: Ryan Lee, workforce development manager for Austal USA

Possess a high school diploma or Graduate Equivalency Diploma (GED)

18 years of age or older at time of application.

Able to provide proof of US Person Status

Willing to submit to a drug screen

Willing to submit to a background check

No felony convictions of Theft/Deception or Violent crimes within seven years from disposition date

No felony convictions of Drug crimes within three years from disposition date

Able and willing to perform the essential functions of the job in a shipbuilding/production environment

Possess the academic ability to succeed in the program

Demonstrate the motivation to continuously improve your knowledge/skills

Have the integrity to complete all assigned academic work independently

Demonstrate a high degree of reliability, both in task accomplishment and time keeping

Successfully completed a craft-related technical training program or have the equivalent craft work experience

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