In-Depth – COMITT votes to create technical council

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The president of the American Boat & Yacht Council had been prepared to plead the case for an ongoing industry effort to improve training for marine industry technicians. But obviously the benefits of the program spoke for themselves.

With a near-unanimous show of hands Feb. 4, attendees at last week’s Conference on Marine Industry Technical Training in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., voted to approve a proposal to form the Marine Industry Technical Council to seek solutions to some of the problems identified during COMITT.

“Well that was an easy sell,” Skip Burdon, ABYC president, said with a smile as he saw the sea of outstretched arms. “In my personal career, this is one of the milestones. I hope you’re as committed as we are at ABYC to bring this further down the line. We’re dedicated to making this work.”

As it is currently envisioned, MITEC will be comprised of a group of 15 to 20 marine industry representatives and members of educational institutions. The council will initially be incorporated into ABYC, but as it gets up and running, would then have the option of becoming its own separate entity.

Several sub-committees would also be created from the MITEC framework to work on specific issues.

The goal is to have MITEC populated with members within three months, so that it can begin working on a list of tasks to help build a more skilled and professional workforce of marine technicians.

Some of the initiatives, identified during group discussions by the attendees at COMITT, would include:

  • Defining core competencies for entry-level technicians
  • Setting standards for technician certification
  • Setting standards for in-house training of technicians
  • Developing a centralized learning center
  • Developing apprentice programs
  • Timetable
    As COMITT wrapped up, conference moderator Bill Yeargin, an executive vice president with yacht-building firm Rybovich Spencer, said a list of all the participants at COMITT would be made available within one week.

    ABYC will also work to create a list of educational institutions that offer training programs for marine technicians within two or three weeks, and will produce a CD with information and notes from COMITT in four to six weeks, Yeargin said.

    Efforts to set up an online clearinghouse for educational opportunities available to technicians, that would also allow them to post their resumes, are to be undertaken as well.

    The seeds were also sown for another COMITT at some future point, possibly in early 2006. Yeargin asked the conference if it would be worthwhile to meet again, and by another show of hands, most of the attendees agreed that it would.

    Yeargin said a lot of people would be needed to help out with MITEC and its sub-committees, and asked that any COMITT attendees interested in participating to submit their names and areas of interest.

    “The plan is to have [MITEC] seated within three months, then have them come back at some point and report to us and get input from the entire group at some point,” Yeargin said. “Then next year, or whenever we get together, I would envision the very first presentation could be, ‘What we have accomplished.’

    “The easy part has been sitting here and looking at the ocean for two days, the tough part begins in about 10 minutes when we all leave and try to make this happen.”
    – Jonathan Mohr

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