Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, has officially opened a brand new, state-of-the-art, 70,000-square-foot maritime training center.  The Haley Reeves Barbour Maritime Training Academy, named for the former Mississippi governor, opened on November 7th and will serve as the training center for the Ingalls Apprentice Program.  It will also assist in bolstering student enrollment.

Former Governor Barbour spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.  Speaking of the opportunities this center will afford to potential students, he expressed, “Today symbolizes the state’s commitment to workforce development and skills training for all of our working people so they can get better, higher-paying jobs.  This will be a symbol to students in Jackson County, south Mississippi, our whole state that the trades and the crafts provide wonderful careers that are rewarding and fulfilling. For many men and women, boys and girls, that’s what their special talent is. We’ve got to start earlier in their lives, exposing them to the trades and what will be taught here.”

The training center features 24 classrooms, a library, three computer labs, a bookstore, several craft labs for the various trades, and 26 offices and conference rooms.  Starting in January, approximately 400 students will be enrolled in the apprentice program.  Presently, a team of over 60 faculty and staff provide 14 trade programs and over 120 course offerings, giving apprentices skills, knowledge, and pride of workmanship, as well as an educational foundation necessary to meet any challenge they will face in the shipbuilding industry.

Since 1952, the Ingalls Apprentice School has graduated over 4,000 students who are now supporting their shipyard operations.  The program offers both two and four-year plans for individuals interested in shipbuilding careers.  Additionally, Ingalls is in the process of establishing a partnership with the Mississippi Community College system to completely accredit the apprentice courses and offer a bridge for the gap to degreed programs.

According to Dr. Mary Graham, President of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, “This is an exciting time for the partnership between Ingalls Shipbuilding and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.  The Maritime Training Academy is an example of innovative thinking and an innovative approach to education. Not only will it advance students’ education, but it will advance their careers. And that’s what workforce training is all about.”

Ingalls Shipbuilding President, Irwin F. Edenzon, expressed, “This new Apprentice School facility will be instrumental in training future generations of shipbuilders.  Ingalls Shipbuilding and all of Huntington Ingalls Industries understands, as the governor does, that the most important investments we make are in our ‘human capital.’ We invest in craftsmanship, scholarship, leadership and citizenship because it makes us a better company and a better employer, and it’s the right thing to do—just as the state’s investment in these things helps make a better Mississippi. And it gives everyone the opportunity for a better quality of life.”