Training Tomorrow's Workers Today
Port and JH Kelly crews celebrated placing the last piece of structural steel of the new towering $5.1 million Work Building with a flag hoisting ceremony on June 19, reaching the milestone as yet another building project was getting off the ground at the Port of Toledo Shipyard.
The Port hopes to have that project, a 3,200-square-foot Metal Fabrication Building, up and functioning later this year, another result of the vocational training efforts the port has undertaken in partnership with the Lincoln County School District (LCSC) and the Oregon Coast Community College (OCCC).
“It’s something we need to do to continue to grow the marine services sector on the Oregon Coast,” said Port Manager Bud Shoemake.
The Port is purchasing a pre-engineered metal building and will use U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) grant funds to outfit the fabrication shop with a ventilation system, overhead crane, an Ironworker machine used to shear, notch and punch holes in steel plate, as well as other equipment. The grant funds were awarded late last year to further regional work force training efforts focusing on the marine repair and fabrication trades. The new building will support both the Port’s training efforts in coordination with OCCC and the Lincoln County School District and ongoing work at the yard.
The Port held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its newly-finished Vocational Welding Lab in late January, built with just $164,300 of the $261,300 of MARAD grant funds thanks to generous donations from local contractors and the use of the Port’s own labor. The grant funds were matched with a $5,000 grant from Georgia-Pacific and the Port’s contributions.
Welding classes at the lab began in early February but were suspended shortly thereafter due to the COVID-19 pandemic. OCCC welding classes are now scheduled to resume Aug. 4 at the Toledo welding with additional classes added to accommodate smaller class sizes for social distancing.
The pair of vocational building projects expands the partnership the Port has developed with the school district, said Majalise Tolan, Secondary Teaching and Learning Administrator for LCSD. High school students from Toledo and Waldport began applying for internships at the shipyard in 2018, getting hands on learning and experience under the supervision of Port staff. The MARAD grant funds will extend access to the welding program and internships to students from all six county high schools, Tolan said, despite the near-term impact of the pandemic.
With average wages exceeding most other industries, Oregon’s maritime sector supports numerous family-wage jobs in Oregon, many of them in rural communities. As older workers retire, younger workers with a basic set of skills to build on will be needed and sought after in the coming years.