On Feb. 1, the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) hosted eight marine industry employers, two representatives from Anne Arundel Community College (AACC), and the workforce development team from the Marine Trades Association of Maryland (MTAM) to discuss the creation of a marine industry apprenticeship program in the state of Maryland.
ABYC has recently developed a wide scoped, entry level course to be used to equip an individual to enter the recreational boating workforce. The goal of the meeting, as stated by MTAM Executive Director Susan Zellers, was for a group of the Marine Trades Industry Partnership Employers to evaluate and give feedback about the curriculum developed by ABYC.
ABYC works extensively with employers around the country to produce their courses. With the buy-in from this group of employers, this curriculum can be used to fulfill the classroom time required of a Maryland Marine apprenticeship program.
“ABYC’s marine service technology program was created to address the industry’s need for post- secondary technical education for aspiring marine professionals,” said Ed Sherman, ABYC vice president of education. “This comprehensive curriculum gives students a jump start in their career path and is designed to be easily integrated with apprenticeship programs.”
The course ends in a final exam, which was taken by some of the employers at the table who had not completed the course. Elliot Anderson of Hinckley Yacht Service was one of these employers. He remarked, “The marine industry has many disciplines and I thought the test gave a good overview of the different elements. There were a lot of technical things and a lot of electrical content. It was thorough, longer than I expected. Yes, I would love to employ someone with the skills taught in this course.”
There was general excitement around the table at the prospect of offering such a course at local high schools and community colleges. All of the employers present were eager to hire, but were experiencing difficulty finding workers with knowledge of the recreational boating industry.
Ryan McQueeny of Marine Technical Services pointed out, “I can train the technical aspects of the job. I really look for someone who has a general knowledge of boats. Even if someone is an electronics whiz, some sort of baseline of basic boat knowledge would be super helpful.”
With the support of industry and education partners, MTAM will move forward with plans to work with the state of Maryland to develop an approved apprenticeship program with some of the employers in the Partnership.
“It is our hope that such a program will fortify the recreational boating workforce, giving all of us a deeper pool of candidates to hire from, and strengthening the boating industry in Maryland”, said John Norton, President of MTAM and owner of Annapolis Harbor Boatyard.