NAVAIR

Fleet Readiness Centers to debut artisan apprentice program

Harris Cooper, red shirt, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Work Force Development Lead, speaks to artisans at Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) Southwest about the four-year FRC Apprentice program August 22, 2018. The program will hire apprentices into needed trades to support Naval aviation readiness. (U.S. Navy photo/released)

Harris Cooper, red shirt, Commander, Fleet Readiness Centers Work Force Development Lead, speaks to artisans at Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) Southwest about the four-year FRC Apprentice program August 22, 2018. The program will hire apprentices into needed trades to support Naval aviation readiness. (U.S. Navy photo/released)

Nov 8, 2018

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NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md. -- With the improving economy and tight job market, recruiting and retaining aviation maintainers can be a difficult proposition. Four Fleet Readiness Centers (FRC) will soon start a four-year apprenticeship program to help build a steady pipeline of trained and qualified artisans to increase production and improve Naval aviation readiness.

“Artisan training and development is critically important to accomplish current and future depot workload supporting the Naval Aviation Fleet mission,” said Martin Ahmad, FRC deputy commander and industrial operations director for Naval Air Systems Command Logistics and Industrial Operations (AIR-6.0).  “We are implementing the Commander, FRC (COMFRC) National Apprenticeship Program to meet our training needs in a holistic manner. The program will establish a formal and consistent process for entry-level wage grade employees to obtain the skills and proficiency necessary to perform their best.”

Working in partnership with local community colleges, the Department of Labor-approved program will recruit and train apprentices in up to 12 aviation maintenance trades. These include aircraft electrician, aircraft engine mechanic, aircraft mechanic, aircraft painter, aircraft sheet metal mechanic, composite worker, electrician, electronics mechanic, machinist, welder and more.

FRC Southwest, Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island, California; FRC Southeast, NAS Jacksonville, Florida; and FRC East, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, are due to announce their classes in the coming weeks. FRC Mid-Atlantic, NAS Oceana, Virginia, has already hired its class for the year.

All expect to have their class on board by June 2019, with more than 500 apprentices expected to be hired over the next four years.

Apprentices will receive federal pay and benefits while in the program.

“I started my career in an apprenticeship program and I spent years working in FRCs,” said Harris Cooper, COMFRC Workforce Development Lead. “I understand the value a program like this can bring.”

Depending on experience, apprentices will start working alongside artisans shortly after beginning the program and will be productive by their third year.

While no experience is required, an entrance exam is required to qualify, Cooper said. Instruction includes classroom and on-the-job training.

“When the program is completed, apprentices earn not only a Certificate of Graduation, they also have college level credits in math, technical drawing and manufacturing processes,” he said.  “We had a program like this in the past and I’m looking forward to bringing it back.”

Traditional and cutting-edge training systems will be used to train the apprentices.

“Skills labs and virtual training systems will be used to provide hands-on training and proficiency validation,” said Ahmad. “Established systems at the FRCs include sheet metals skills labs, virtual paint trainers and machinist skills labs.” Class credits, in most cases, will be accredited and transferable to degrees.

Opportunities will be posted on www.usajobs.gov.

COMFRC Public Affairs
301-757-3108

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