Industry career day comes on the heels of boating growth

NEWPORT, R.I. — Marine & Composites Industry Career Day, which takes place on March 7 in Newport, comes on the heels of good news in the marine trades. According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the start of 2015 marks three consecutive years of steady growth in the boating business. Paired with that growth is an escalating need for the workforce that can fuel the demand for boats and boating products.

Some 40 companies from Maine to New York will attend this year’s Career Day to connect with individuals interested in working in the marine and composites industries. Cohosted by the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA) and IYRS, this event is free to the public and takes place March 7 at the IYRS Newport Campus (449 Thames Street) from 10:30 am to 1 pm. Three breakout sessions will be held so career seekers can learn from experts.

“In the eighteen years I have been in the recruiting business, I have never seen a market where marine-trades talent is in such high demand,” said Neal Harrell, president of Brooks Marine Group, a recruiting firm focused on the recreational marine business.

From his office in Newport, Harrell has closely tracked the post-recession recovery of the boating industry. With the first signs of recovery, Harrell saw requests for design and engineering talent who could develop new products; then came requests for managerial talent to coordinate that hoped-for production. Today, Harrell sees a full-blown need for workers at all levels, including manufacturing and skilled hands-on talent—“which means we are beyond designing and engineering product and we are building it,” he says. Harrell’s recruiting caseload at Brooks Marine Group has roughly doubled.

Career Day organizers encourage job seekers at all levels to attend the event—from skilled tradesmen and -women, to managerial talent, to those who have no experience but have a sincere interest in the marine and composites industries and a willingness to learn.

Attendees can talk with boat builders, marinas and boat yards, marine manufacturers, educational institutions, and composites companies that also work in non-marine sectors such as transportation, military and architecture. Attendees who want to deepen their skills can learn about the free training programs offered by RIMTA and the IYRS programs in Composites Technology, Marine Systems and Boatbuilding & Restoration.

Career Day opens to the public at 10:30 am, but two of the three breakout sessions are slated prior to the event’s opening so attendees can devote their full attention to learning and not miss valuable time speaking with employers. The line-up of breakout sessions is:

9:00 am – “Navigating Your Job Search” with Neal Harrell, President, Brooks Marine Group

9:30 am – “What Brewer Yacht Yards Look for in a Candidate” with Rives Potts, President/COO, Brewer Yacht Yards

11:00 am – “Skills Needed in the Marine & Composites Industry Workforce,” a panel of experts moderated by Wendy Mackie, CEO, RIMTA

For more information and to preregister for Career Day and its breakout sessions, please visit the Career Day website at

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