Newport News Shipbuilding breaks ground for new Apprentice School campus

Written by Nick Blenkey

NNS groundbreakingHuntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) reports that its Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division last week broke ground on the shipyard’s new Apprentice School campus. Apprentice School students, faculty and staff were joined by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, U.S. Reps. Scott Rigell, Bobby Scott and Rob Wittman, Newport News Mayor McKinley Price, HII leadership and other business and community leaders at the construction site for a ceremonial ground-breaking event.

Real estate developer and construction company Armada Hoffler, the City of Newport News, the Commonwealth of Virginia and NNS have partnered on the new campus project, which will include an 80,000-square-foot school, workforce housing, retail space and a parking garage.

The Apprentice School attracts an average of 4,500 applicants per year for 280 openings. The school offers four- and five-year, tuition-free apprenticeships in 25 occupations to qualified men and women. Apprentices work a regular 40-hour week and are paid for all work, including time spent in academic classes. Through partnerships with Thomas Nelson Community College and Tidewater Community College, The Apprentice School’s academic program provides the opportunity to earn associate’s degrees in business administration, engineering and engineering technology.

More than 100 faculty and staff teach 25 different programs and more than 75 course offerings at the Apprentice School. Since 1919, the programs have produced more than 9,600 graduates in support of NNS’s operational needs. An apprenticeship is a formal training program that allows students to receive instruction and experience — both theoretical and practical — in the various aspects of a skilled trade.

“This project is a demonstration of HII’s commitment to education and investing in our people,” said HII President and CEO Mike Petters. “Make no mistake, we believe this commitment to workforce development is necessary because what we do as a heavy manufacturing company — the products we build and the services we provide — is a direct result of the skills, talent and capability of our 38,000 employees.”

NNS President Matt Mulherin said, “This campus will provide a first-class learning facility for our apprentices, while also providing another significant step toward revitalizing downtown Newport News. It is yet another symbol that American manufacturing is alive and well in Newport News. Without the support of an engaged state and city — and its leadership — a large, industrial organization such as ours would not flourish. We appreciate the long-standing support and partnership the City of Newport News and the Commonwealth of Virginia have always shown us.”

Lou Haddad, president and CEO of Armada Hoffler Holding Co., also spoke. “Only through a public-private partnership between the Commonwealth of Virginia, the City of Newport News and Huntington Ingalls Industries could the targeted grant from the commonwealth for the purpose of building a new apprentice school be transformed into a major downtown redevelopment complex,” he said. “The school, along with the accompanying workforce housing, retail services and other conveniences, will serve as a catalyst for further downtown revitalization.”

May 7, 2012

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