The state of Alabama is putting up $5 million to help Mobile-based Austal USA train and employ up to 1,000 more employees over the next five years. Total employment at Austal is expected to reach about 4,600 as part of the company’s expansion plan.
The five-year pact will help Austal continue to grow its workforce. As part of the Phase V Agreement, the shipyard will also receive employee training services from the Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) program.
Alabama opened the AIDT Maritime Training Center in January adjacent to Austal. The focus of AIDT is an apprenticeship program designed to meet the growing demand for skilled shipyard workers in south Alabama.
Austal is currently building nine 338′ Navy Joint High Speed Vessels under a $1.6 billion contract and five 416′ Independence-variant littoral combat ship class vessels, four of which are a part of a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract.
For the LCS and JHSV programs, Austal, as prime contractor, is teamed with General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, a business unit of General Dynamics.
“Since forming an official public/private partnership with the state of Alabama, Mobile County, and the city of Mobile, Austal’s employment numbers have increased from just over 100 to nearly 3,000, and we are working to grow our operation to more than 4,000,” Brian Leathers, Austal USA’s interim president and chief financial officer, said in a statement announcing the agreement.
In a related development, Austal said that 15 graduates had completed the shipyard’s four-year apprenticeship program. The graduates received certificates of completion and designation as Class A journeymen.
The graduating class consisted of six electrical journeymen, four pipefitter journeymen, and five fabrication journeymen.
Austal’s apprenticeship program is overseen by the Alabama Department of Labor for the trades of pipefitter, marine electrician, fabricator, and fitout. The state of Alabama has also approved Austal’s four trade programs for the Veteran’s Administration.
Each candidate must complete a minimum of 576 hours of classroom time and an additional 8,000 hours of on-the-job training over the four-year period.