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Joyce Endee

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard recruiting in Berlin

April 14, 2010
BERLIN — Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is looking for a few good men and women.

Representatives from the shipyard came to White Mountains Community College on Tuesday to present apprenticeship opportunities and tell people about their workers' skills program.

The shipyard overhauls and modernizes submarines for the US Navy. The apprentice program teaches participants the skills to work on the ships, while they earn an associates degree at the same time. The workers' skills program is focused more on experienced workers, with less emphasis on academics.

About 50 WMCC students attended the presentation; men and women in their twenties, thirties, forties and even fifties, primarily from the welding technology program.

Everyone is eligible to work at the shipyard, said Brian Donnell the lead representative from the shipyard. "There's a remarkable amount of opportunity."

Another representative made it clear age isn't a factor in the training programs: they have a woman who is 80 years old going through right now.

Mr. Donnell went through the apprentice program. It took him four years, he said, but he never had to pay for a single book. Now he is a nuclear production supervisor.

Mr. Donnell said people have to be hardworking, honest, and trustworthy to get a job, but they don't have to know their trade. If they know how to handle a torch, he said, they'll learn how to live up to the standards required for submarines, the most advanced craft the government owns.

"If you think you're a good welder now, bring it to the shipyard," he said.

Apprentices and workers' skills program participants get paid during their training, starting at $17 per hour, with benefits. The work is hard, he said, but it's interesting and always changing. It takes up to five years to graduate from the program, at which point participants are making $23 per hour. And unlike other programs, he said, participants are not then bound to work for the shipyard beyond their training. If people want to leave they can, he said.

The apprentice program and the workers' skills program only take applications at certain times, Mr. Donnell said, so it's important people interested keep an eye on their website, www.navsea.navy.mil/shipyards/portsmouth/. The application then goes through www.usajobs.gov. The application process can take time, he said, and requires a strong resume well-tailored to the position, but if you get in and are prepared to work hard it's a great job for a secure future.

And the best part, he said, is he is helping the brave Americans fighting for freedom. That makes him proud to come to work each day.

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