COMITT draws more than 100 participants

ANNAPOLIS, Md.; BROOKLIN, Maine; and CHICAGO – More than 100 marine industry educators, manufacturers, marine trade associations and workforce development professionals took part in the third Conference on Marine Industry Technical Training in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., earlier this month, organizers reported in a release this week.

Another 100 people registered for COMITT Online, which is still open and accessible.

Produced by MITEC and co-sponsored by the American Boat & Yacht Council, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and Professional Boatbuilder magazine, the conference concentrated on strategies to recruit and retain marine-industry employees, addressing a workforce shortage that has become a severe problem in the industry.

The conference kicked off with a three-hour open networking session designed to highlight the primary concerns and objectives of attendees. Guided by David Veech, executive director of the Institute for Lean Systems, this activity helped attendees to make immediate connections, and provided them with valuable insights into the top three problems attendees felt the industry faced: workforce availability, workforce competence and workforce retention.

Attendees then participated in targeted seminars and panel discussions, closing out the conference with a concluding networking session in which each attendee was asked to state one action item that he or she could put into play immediately.

“Initial feedback from COMITT participants tells us that everyone was very pleased with the sessions, presenters and outcomes,” Caroline Chetelat, ABYC and COMITT Planning Committee member said. “This conference is the only one of its kind, and it is important to provide this type of venue where people can come together to discuss ways to solve problems such as this in our industry.”

Another highlight of the conference was COMITT online. Produced in collaboration with Elluminate, Inc., a provider of live eLearning and Web collaboration solutions, the online events ran concurrently with the live conference. By using a hybrid format for the conference, conference producers were able to focus on face-to-face networking onsite, while also providing a high-tech component online.

“Having 100 people register for COMITT online shows us that there is considerable interest in the issues we covered, even from people who were unable to attend,” Barbara Jean Walsh, COMITT Planning Committee Chair said. “We were thrilled to be able to expose our attendees and the marine industry to new online technology, especially through Elluminate Inc. and Hilary Mason’s seminars on New Media.”

Steve Kitchin, MITEC Chair and Vice President, Corporate Education and Training at New England Institute of Technology said, “MITEC is already working on or exploring many of the ideas generated at COMITT. First on our agenda is a Needs and Skills Analysis to pinpoint exactly where the shortages are and what kind of skills training is needed. The second priority is to develop a report on the requirements to create an accreditation system for post-secondary marine-training programs. The third is to create a coordinated communications plan for educators, state employment agencies, and the marine industry. All of these projects will have a direct impact on the top three problems voiced by conference attendees, and MITEC is charged and ready to move forward.”

Links to the COMITT Online sessions, images from the conference, follow-up information, as well as links to other newly created social networking sites for the marine industry as a result of COMITT will be posted at

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