A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Marine Industry Training: A College Perspective

When the Marine Industry Association of South Florida (MIASF) contacted Broward Community College (BCC) to help them with the training of qualified technicians, we were more than willing to assist an industry that represents the largest economic generator in our community.  With an estimated $18 billion impact on our Florida economy, the marine industry is the eight hundred pound gorilla that cannot be ignored. 

However, the industry is fragmented and a dominant employer is hard to find; MIASF represents over 800 members and few employ more than 50 workers.  In addition, the industry has struggled to standardize much of its practices or establish a training criteria or certification for its workers.  That’s where the American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) comes into the picture.  BCC has joined with ABYC to establish a Marine Center of Excellence in Miramar Florida to establish a curriculum that will lead to a certification. Employers will recognize graduates as having completed a quality program and are prepared to work on the sophisticated systems and engines aboard multi-million dollar yachts. 

The owners of these vessels choose South Florida to get their yachts repaired or retrofitted because of the availability of parts, equipment and labor.  However, the labor force is decreasing due to the lack of young people entering the industry and an aging existing workforce.  Soon, this issue will cause the industry to suffer and boat owners will go elsewhere to get the services.  The industry, as a whole, must come together with a unified voice and call for and support a training program that will lay the foundation for a successful and fruitful future.  This will ensure that the labor force will be available to take on the growth that the industry is experiencing and meet the demand of South Florida.

Jorge Guerra,
Dean, Aviation Institute, Automotive Technology
and Marine Engineering Management Programs


3 comments on “Marine Industry Training: A College Perspective

  1. Joe Worley

    I agree that we need to come together and establish a meaning training program, but the bigger problem, not just in South Florida, but Nation wide, is developing a plan and a program that will bring that younger group into our industry. I have been in the Marine for many years and have watched our employee base dwindle due to several factors. 1. We are not competitive with other industries when it comes to pay and benefits. 2. Boating is no longer available to the majority of the younger people we would normally bring into the technical side of the business, there is no connection to boating for them. 3. Aside from Florida, most State, county and local school systems accross the country have discontinued there Marine Technical programs. You are absolutely correct we must do something soon or we will have great difficulty continuing this Industry.

  2. Steve Kitchin

    I also agree that something needs to be done to address the Marine Industry workforce shortage, and as the Chairman of the Marine Industry Technical Education Council (MITEC) which is attempting to address this issue from a national perspective, I felt it necessary to chime in. It is no secret that the industry is facing a shortage of skilled workers. There have been two Conferences on Marine Industry Technical Training (COMITT) over the past two years, multiple articles have appeared in the trade publications and many regional initiatives to combat this shortage have recently been implemented. However, the Marine Industry Technical Education Council (MITEC) (formed as a result of the 2005 Conference on Marine Industry Technical Training) is attempting to tackle this critical issue.

    While MITEC has done much work for an all volunteer Council of individuals interested in addressing this from a national perspective, we are not afraid to admit that MITEC has been somewhat of a stealth operation, and that we need more volunteers to support and help spread the word about what the Council is attempting to accomplish. Over the past year, MITEC has been directing our efforts to several key initiatives that we hope will provide a high level of visibility for the marine industry, as well as MITEC, and address this important issue.

    For those who don’t know, MITEC has a national representation from a cross section of education and industry sectors, that are working hard to meet their stated mission:“ …to facilitate the development and sustained availability of a technically skilled and proficient workforce for the marine industry through education, training and professional development. The supporting mission of the Council is to promote public awareness of technical workforce career opportunities….”

    As a first step, MITEC has created a website targeted towards educators, counselors, and individuals searching for career direction, career changers and anyone else looking for information regarding the boating industry as a possible career path. If you visit http://www.boatingcareerinfo.org  you will find: a searchable educational provider catalog that provides a list of marine technical training programs for the U.S. and Canada that is a key component of the site, facts, figures and information that show the relative trends of the marine industry, a career listing where people can find descriptions of the various jobs available to those interested in the industry, as well as a career outlook for each, a section with frequently asked questions, an information and assistance page for workforce development initiatives in each state that will provide insight on how companies, dealerships, associations, etc. can tap into their local workforce development boards or organization to obtain money for technical training, as well as contact information for MITEC.

    MITEC is also currently working on a comprehensive technical skills analysis of the marine industry. This is an important first step for building better technical training. Such analysis will be able to provide employers and educators with information such as what an individual needs to know to perform a specific job, what tools they need to accomplish the job/task and how proficient that person should be in that task. And while the skills analysis can show what skills an individual does or does not have and/or is necessary for a job, MITEC would also like to take the next step towards conducting an industry needs analysis. This analysis would reveal what the baseline industry situation is in terms of training requirements as well as workforce sector needs.

    MITEC also believes that the time is right to start exploring some form of industry wide workforce/technician “certification” pathway, as well as looking at accrediting organizations that have marine programs. MITEC believes that a recognized certification and accreditation program for the industry, as well as training programs, will improve the quality of our training programs and the quality and safety of the end product to its consumers.

    I feel that the council has accomplished a great deal in a short period of time, and wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to update the industry on what we’ve been up to. We rely heavily on the professionalism and dedication of our volunteer members and the leadership of our five Division Directors to accomplish our common vision to sustain and strengthen the industry. However, we can always use more help. If you would like to become an active contributor to MITEC, would like to be added to a mailing list or would like additional information, please contact me at skitchin@neit.edu or Caroline Chetelat at cchetelat@abycinc.org. For additional information on MITEC, workforce development assistance and careers in the boating industry, please visit http://www.boatingcareerinfo.org.

    I look forward to periodically updating all concerned with the progress of MITEC.

    Steve Kitchin
    MITEC Chairman

  3. Noel Osborne

    Good technicians can easily and quickly trained to service anything, cars, boats, airplanes. You name it.If a good technician can make $80,000 working for a auto dealer and $40,000 working for a boat dealer, which will he choose? No brainer!
    The marine dealer has to recognize this along with the improved efficieny and profitability of qualified personnel. Yes the manufacturers should help but the dealers own their businesses and need to do whatever is necessary to assemble a qualified staff of service personnel. I know dealers who are paying their techs over $35.00 per hour and they are making good money becasue they fix it right the first time and do the work in half the time. It is your choice.

    Noel Osborne

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