By Tom Kreidel, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs
NORFOLK (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Mid-Atlantic held a ceremony Aug. 11 to celebrate the 11 newest graduates from the command's apprenticeship program.
According to Jean Dumlao, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic's Public Works business line coordinator, the program has graduated more than 40 apprentices since NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic began the program in 2006.
"We're proud to have been the first command in NAVFAC to have a federally registered apprenticeship program," she added. "This is helping to build our journeyman workforce for the future while filling current vacancies."
Dumlao added that NAVFAC Southwest has a similar apprentice program.
She explained that the program has two main parts, paid on-the-job training with an assigned mentor during the day at different public works departments throughout NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic, with the command paying for formal studies at schools in the evening where the apprentices graduate with an associate's degree or certificate in their assigned trade.
According to Tom Harrington, who serves as the apprenticeship program coordinator, the apprentices work full time to get 8,000 hours of on-the-job training in one of nine trades including HVAC mechanic, electrician, high voltage electrician, plumber, pipefitter, boiler plant mechanic, heavy mobile equipment mechanic, industrial equipment control mechanic, heavy mobile equipment mechanic and auto mechanic.
"When they graduate, they receive a certificate at the journeyman level from the Department of Labor," he said. "This program has been a great success, for both the graduates and NAVFAC."
Capt. J. Pat Rios, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic commanding officer was on hand to congratulate the graduates and hand out their certificates.
"Take what you've learned and use it to help make us a better command," he said. "As a command, we are looked at for our expertise, efficiency and innovation and you have taken the first step in gaining expertise.
Dumlao added that several of the apprentices have graduated with honors from the schools they have attended in the evenings and that this group includes the first graduate to achieve a grade point average above 3.9, Wesley McPherson.
"Coming out of this program with a degree is great," said McPherson. "Having a program like this really shows that NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic cares about its people and its future."
Harrington says that this program will continue with more than 50 apprentices in the program and plans to recruit 12 more this fall.