EDGEWATER, Md. – The Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology has reached an agreement with Northeast Maryland’s Cecil Community College allowing students to earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree through a program offered by the college, the American Boat and Yacht Council said in a press release Monday.
The agreement is the first to be reached as part of a cooperative effort between ABYC, Cecil Community College and other regional education centers to tackle the growing concern regarding the diminishing labor pool of qualified marine trades professionals throughout Maryland, Delaware and Northern Virginia, according to ABYC.
The AAS Degree in Transportation & Logistics – Small Craft and Yacht Design Option, was recently approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, setting the stage for formally launching the program this fall.
The degree will incorporate Westlawn’s existing distance learning program to deliver the yacht and small craft design segment of the degree program, while Cecil Community College will deliver all remaining general educational courses. The college is working toward offering all of the general course requirements online in the near future.
“The associate’s degree program with Cecil Community College is part of the ongoing commitment of Westlawn and ABYC to offer the broadest range of educational opportunities to our students and to individuals interested in entering or advancing in the boating industry,” said Dave Gerr, Westlawn director.
Industry workforce shortages prompt programs
ABYC is also working with the college to create a Marine Trades Option as part of its Transportation & Logistics associates degree initiative. The Marine Trades Pathway will include ABYC standards, and is intended to offer the necessary education and training to enable the student to fill critical workforce shortages within the region, ABYC said.
One unique feature of the Pathway is that it is being created to complement and support a national high school marine trades feeder program model currently being developed in cooperation with secondary school officials in Rhode Island and ABYC.
ABYC said its ultimate goal is to work cooperatively across the nation with educational institutions in support of marine trade programs that will prepare individuals to enter, remain, and professionally grow to support the marine industry on a local and regional basis.
“In order to make a real impact, workforce education and training initiatives must to be tailored to meet local and regional challenges and employer needs,” said Skip Burdon, president of ABYC. “For example, where there is a high concentration of marine manufacturers, the successful program must emphasize small craft and yacht construction.”
As part of Cecil Community College’s Marine Trades Pathway, course offerings will be embedded with appropriate ABYC education and training materials necessary for students to earn both a college degree and appropriate ABYC certification(s). The program will also require students to participate in local marine industry internships, ABYC said.