Tacoma’s last remaining major shipyard, J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Co., today announced a new apprenticeship program designed to create a new generation of skilled shipbuilders while providing jobs for Native Americans and military veterans.
The jobs program, sponsored jointly by the Puyallup Tribe, the Tulalip Tribe, the Tribal Employment Rights Office of the Pacific Northwest Regional Tribes and the Helmets to Hardhats program, will train apprentices in skilled trades while the shipyard builds its first fishing boat in two decades.
That boat, the 184-foot Northern Leader, is a long-line fishing vessel the shipyard is constructing for Alaskan Leader Fisheries.
The shipyard plans to hire about 100 workers to build that vessel. Workers previously laid off from the shipyard when construction projects were declining will be the first rehired and then the apprentices through six trade unions will join the employment roster.
Chris Winters, business representative for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, told a gathering of economic development officials Tuesday that the program will continue a long tradition at Martinac.
On the shipyard’s last major project, a tugboat for the U.S. Navy, some 15 percent of workers were Native Americans and 30 percent to 40 percent were veterans.
Shipyard President Joe Martinac said the skilled workforce at the shipyard on the Thea Foss Waterway is aging, and a new generation of skilled workers is needed to take their place.
Applications for the apprenticeships are available to anyone, but veterans and tribal members will have preference in selection.
Applications are available for the apprenticeship positions through the Washington Building Trades at wabuildingtrade.org.