IBEX Preview: Training Days

infusion trainingAaron Porter (both)

During this year’s IBEX seminar series, speakers will share how they developed shop-floor training and apprenticeship programs to fill the skills gap.

During this year’s IBEX seminar series, speakers will share how they developed shop-floor training and apprenticeship programs to fill the skills gap. In major cities around the country, training centers for software developers have sprung up to meet the tech industry’s demand for skilled workers. Schools with names like Dev Bootcamp, Startup Institute, Codecademy Labs, and Anyone Can Learn to Code are steadily churning out a workforce of new web developers, promised a quick and fruitful job search, after as little as 12 weeks of training.

While boatbuilding’s scale of employment can’t compare to the surge of new tech jockeys, its story is similar. Skilled workers are critical, but may not be readily available. Filling the skills gap must be done in increasingly creative ways. Those endeavors will be addressed at the upcoming International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference (IBEX) in Louisville, Kentucky, where three educational sessions will focus on workforce needs for the industry. Learn what your company can do to attract and keep the next-generation’s best and brightest, who—fortunately—would rather work in a boatyard than an office park.


1. Help Wanted: How to Find, Train, and Retain a Quality Workforce for Your Business (Super Session No. 3) 

  • WHEN: September 14, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
  • WHERE: Room B-102

First up is a look at what’s happening now: This all-day super session on Monday, the day before IBEX opens, starts with the results of a nationwide survey on employment trends. Developed by the American Boat Builders & Repairers Association (ABBRA) and distributed through regional marine trades, the survey collected information about the skill level of the current workforce, basic demographics on marine workers, hiring needs, labor shortages, areas of skill deficiency, and effective training solutions.

The rest of the day will be a working session that focuses on training technically skilled workers, working with U.S.-veteran-placement agencies, accessing state and federal funding, and developing on-the-job training, such as apprenticeship programs.

Session moderator will be Steve Kitchin, vice president of corporate education at New England Institute of Technology. Speakers include Rich Difede, of Gold Coast Yachts (who will deliver the keynote address); Chris van der Hor, of the New Zealand Marine Industry Association; Campbell Black and Peter Dahl of Quadrant Marine Institute (also see below); Scott Ellsworth, of Business Leaders United; Sarah Blusiewicz, of Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training; Jen Cornwell and Wendy Mackie, of Rhode Island Marine Trades Association; Susan Swanton, of Maine Marine Trades Association; and Chip Dickison, of the Nova Scotia Boatbuilders Association.

The all-day super session is being produced by ABBRA, the Maine Marine Trades Association, and the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association.

2. Developing In-house Apprenticeship Programs (Session No. 104)

  • WHEN: Tuesday, September 15, 12:30–2 p.m.
  • WHERE: Room B-104
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In-house training doesn’t necessarily have to interrupt the business or cost a lot of money, according to Dan Crete of Saltworks Marine in Marion, Massachusetts, who will talk about how he created an effective program for his shop and others on Thursday, September 17.

Speakers at this session may already be familiar to readers of ProfessionalBoatBuilder, where stories about their work have appeared. Campbell Black and Peter Dahl, of Quadrant Marine Institute, featured in “Vocational Training, Vancouver Island-Style” (PBB No. 79) will be joined by Joe Calnan, coordinator of the on-site curriculum at MetalCraft Marine; he was in the story “When Opportunity Knocks . . .” (PBB No. 145).

All three are experts in apprenticeship and training programs, and have a lot of experience to share in how to make them work. Black and Dahl have been working on educational programs for Quadrant, a private training facility that designs and delivers apprenticeship training for technicians employed in the recreational marine industry (boat and yacht building, repair, and maintenance), for more than 20 years. Calnan has set up and runs an in-house training program for building semi-custom aluminum boats based on the New Zealand Marine Industry’s apprenticeship program.

3. Using Existing Certification Training Programs to Boost In-house Performance (Session No. 608)

  • WHEN: Thursday, September 17, 8:30–10 a.m.
  • WHERE: Room C-109

Another great resource is Dan Crete. He is the founder and owner of Saltworks Marine, an inland boatyard in Marion, Massachusetts, specializing in maintenance, repair, hauling, storage, and education. Not finding what he was looking for in traditional training paths, he created a new program that has been used for his staff and others.

Based on his experience, Crete will show attendees how to conduct in-house training to build a team and serve customers better without spending too much money or interrupting the flow of business. The methods may be unorthodox but effective: In 2014, ABBRA named Crete’s company the 2014 winner of its Award of Excellence for Customer Care.

So much experience in one place—at IBEX—makes these seminars essential for anyone who needs trained employees or is interested in shop-floor training programs.

—Melissa Wood

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Article Category: Yards