Grand Opening of the Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding
Yesterday, on an unusually warm December day, I attended the grand opening of the new Apprentice School building in downtown Newport News, Virginia. It was an event that made me proud to be an American, proud to be a Virginian and proud to be a veteran of the US Navy. I was a member of an audience that included local citizens, business leaders, government officials, the press, and students and alumni of The Apprentice School.
The crowd was there to commemorate a successful project to finance and construct a new, state of the art vocational educational facility. Newport News Shipbuilding founded The Apprentice School in 1919; it was fully accredited by the Council of Occupational Education in 1982. Every year, The Apprentice School graduates between 170 and 250 skilled shipbuilders from 19 different trade training programs that last either four or five years. A few special programs take as many as eight years. In early 2014, the School will pass a milestone when graduate number 10,000 completes the program.
Students at the Apprentice School are full time employees of the shipyard; their classes are “on the clock” with a starting salary of a little more than $30,000 per year. By the time that they are ready to graduate, their skills have improved to the point at which they are making close to $50,000 per year plus overtime. Typically, students will spend 2 days per week in academic or training classrooms and three days per week in the yard performing their craft while under instruction.
Some might wonder why an atomic energy-focused blog would bother to cover the opening of such a facility. I’ll point back to several recent posts where I discussed the potential for the US Navy’s nuclear power program and its suppliers to play a greater role in the commercial nuclear power industry. (Examples include: Naval Reactors should be empowered to show the way – again, Atomic Show #210 – Leadership by Navy nukes and Root cause of Naval Reactors policy of strict secrecy about nuclear propulsion plant design).
Newport News Shipbuilding is the world’s leading manufacturing facility for nuclear powered aircraft carriers and the only place in the United States that builds nuclear powered surface ships. It also builds nuclear powered submarines and services all kinds of nuclear powered ships. Quite a few of the trades and advanced programs taught at the school have direct roles in nuclear technology, including a new program whose graduates will soon qualify as shift test engineers for new nuclear power plants.
The new Apprentice School complex, unlike the existing facility, is outside of the shipyard gates and located in downtown Newport News. This makes it a more accessible place for potential students and their family members and it allows the students to become a bigger part of the community life in the city. As part of the development, there is a newly constructed apartment building with 174 units and 30,000 square feet of retail space. Anyone can seek an apartment in the building, but for students at the school it would be incredibly convenient to live next door. I toured the apartments; they are well laid out and have modern accoutrements. The building includes a common room with a pool table, a 70 inch big screen TV and a gaming console; it also includes a well-equipped fitness center.
The ceremony included a procession led by a bagpipe band, a series of speeches by the businessmen and politicians who had been involved in the project development and completion and the unveiling of a new bronze sculpture by a local artist. During the speeches I could sense the pride in accomplishment and a real sense of belonging in the crowd. The pride is justified; the construction process took just 18 months from groundbreaking on a site that was still occupied by a partially demolished building. During that time, the contractors completed a 90,000 square foot academic complex, a 380 space parking garage, 30,000 square feet of retail space and a 174 unit apartment building.
After the ceremony I spoke to Mike Petters, the CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, the company that owns the Newport News shipyard. He described the planning that goes into determining the shipyard’s work schedules which, in turn, determine the number of apprentices needed. He also told me about a recent shift in the work force to a younger, slightly less experienced group due to a large number of retirements; the school responded by training more leaders and adjusting the workforce to include a higher ratio of supervisors to workers so that quality and safety did not suffer from the reduction in work experience.
As I moved to more detailed questions about the student body and the curriculum, Mike deferred to Danny Hunley, the Vice President of Operations for Newport News Shipbuilding. Danny was the master of ceremonies for the grand opening; he has overall responsibility for the School. A major part of his role includes determining the number of openings in each trade and the overall throughput of the school. Because it takes four to five years to produce a graduate, the company needs to look out into the future to make sure that it properly loads the workforce with the correct skills.
I asked Hunley how quickly the yard could surge if there was a new demand for shipbuilding; he told me that the shipyard has recently been hiring about 2,000 skilled workers every year while the Apprentice School produces about 180 to 220 graduates. The School provides the yard with people who have been trained in industrial arts leadership skills and helps to attract people who might not otherwise consider the career opportunities that come from working in a shipyard. He also told me that the shipyard has demonstrated the ability to hire three or four hundred qualified workers in a month in order to surge when there is a new demand.
Here is an excerpt from our conversation that I thought was worth sharing widely.
Hunley: One of the things that we did about five years ago is that we reengineered all of our production and maintenance training programs around the evolution that we are seeing in workforce generations. You hear a lot of people tell you that today’s workforce is no good, these kids are gamers; they like all of that stuff. I would tell you that the generation that we’re hiring right now is probably the best generation of shipbuilders and Americans that we’ve hired in this company’s history.
Hunley: They’re different than me, a Baby Boomer. They’ve got interests that are different than mine; things motivate them differently than they do me. So what we’ve done is that we’ve reengineered psychologically our training programs to be more efficiently received and taken by them. The result – we’ve really dropped our attrition way down and we are finding some really good people. They’re doing a great job.
After I spoke with the company leaders, I joined a press tour led by Everett Jordan, the Director of Education for Newport News Shipbuilding. The tour group included Ali Rockett from the Hampton Roads Daily Press and Art Kohn of WAVY.
Everett gave us an excellent tour of the facility, showing us state-of-the-art classrooms, video teleconferencing facilities, instructor offices and, perhaps most surprisingly to me, a collegiate quality gymnasium. Though I was dimly aware of the existence of the school before my visit, I had no idea that it sponsored six division III sports teams, a drum line, a cheer team and had won national championships in baseball, wrestling and both men’s and women’s basketball. In addition to the sports teams, the school has a student government and active chapters of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.
Those activities, like similar activities at traditional colleges, give students an opportunity to practice the leadership and discipline that will serve them well in their responsible careers.
In one of the forth floor classrooms, Everett pointed out of the window and stated “If that is not an inspiring view for our apprentices, I don’t know what is.” Here is the view he was pointing to, on the left is the now decommissioned USS Enterprise, the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the world. On the right is the USS Gerald Ford, which will be the newest nuclear powered aircraft carrier in the world when it is completed.
The people I met during my visit are ready, willing and able to build the best ships in the world. It would be great, in my personal opinion, if those same skilled people could apply their training to the production of high quality, oil independent, emission-free commercial ships using designs that have already been thoroughly proven to be safe and potentially economical.
Can’t see the fist pic on GoogleChrome. OK on Safari but I have to click to get it … The other pics do not need a click…
William Tucker said that we were no longer building stuff in North America. We are losing our manufacturing skills.
For example, welders are needed for nuclear plants and are hard to find in the US.
When naysayers are vowing to block the UK with its nuclear renaissance, they are not only tackling the environment and cheap energy; they are killing a will to re industrialize Britain.
It is time to realize that the myth of the educated and the service industry cannot fill all the jobs. Look at Europe. Building stuff is good too. But you need reliable and cheap energy.
Germany has chosen to de industrilize itself. Let’s hope the UK walks away from an European Union that is too heavily influenced by German righteous thinking.
Daniel … repeating unsupported statements twice doesn’t make them any more true. How is Germany choosing “to de industrialize itself” (despite evidence to the contrary)?
UK has been underperforming in industrial production for some time now. Energy costs at twice the current market rate are supposed to boost the prospects for British manufacturing?
Apparently, your “evidence to the contrary” is that German industrial production has increased at a net rate of only 0.4% per decade in the past five years. During the 1960’s the rate of increase in Germany was almost 80% per decade.
I don’t know what bizarre point you think that you’re trying to make, but please keep going!
And how is this evidence of deindustrialization, as you suggest?
If you need some help, you might want to consult the following:
Deutsche Bank: “German Industry: Tangible Production Growth in 2014.”
McKinsey & Company: “Manufacturing the future: The next era of global growth and innovation.”
I really can’t find a source that confirms what Daniel is saying. We compare countries of similar scale and advanced economy. Germany stands at the top of the list. France and UK are both in economic hardship or decline. Germany is bucking the trend. In 2010, “manufacturing sector accounted for 18.7 percent of GDP in Germany and 11.7 percent of GDP in the United States.” It has a current account surplus (which is not a sign of de-industrialization). Manufacturing accounts for more than 80% of it’s exports. It’s industries are very efficient.
German manufacturing is exempt from EEG surcharges (for now). Smaller businesses get subsidies. Given the scope and history of these timely and strategic choices in business reform, investment and labor markets, much of it to favor industrial and export production, I’m not sure how you can say Germany is “choosing deindustrialization.” They appear to be doing exactly the opposite. Energy policies are focused on advanced technology development and innovation, and are consistent with this. If anything, the German economy is over-industrialized (as some here have suggested), and could benefit from a bit re-balancing (especially in growth of wages).
I’m not sure why you say my points are “bizarre.” I feel I have been relatively straightforward and clear.
Looking backward to statistics and forward via official statements of intent, it’s difficult to disagree with you.
However, I believe that Germany has chosen a path that is fraught with risk. This year, Germany will still produce about 100 billion kilowatt hours of nuclear electricity. The cost of electricity is already increasing, even though it is getting away with giving industry an enormously good deal that does not reflect its true share of the cost.
As the remaining nuclear plants are shut down, Germany will become more dependent on fossil fuels. It’s much vaunted renewables will never be reliable; they will be able to replace the nuclear portion when the wind and sun are favorable, but that is not all that often in Germany.
Germany can remain industrial as long as it can keep power rates low for industry, but its neighbors and other EU community members are gong to be putting a lot of pressure on Germany over its rising emissions and its unpredictable electricity export/import demands.
It still seems like seppuku to me, but I guess we’ll see. It is not a path that I recommend and it is a path that I would fight ever step of the way if suggested here.
“As the remaining nuclear plants are shut down, Germany will become more dependent on fossil fuels. It’s much vaunted renewables will never be reliable”
Even with the present reduced renewable installation rate they can close their 9 NPP’s in the period until 2023 and still not be more dependent on fossil.
And after grid adaptation (~2016) the rate will rise again.
“Germany has chosen a path that is fraught with risk …renewables will never be reliable”
Since the share of renewable (a.o. wind+solar) became substantial, electricity supply reliability for customers doubled. The annual total outage time went down from 30min. to 15min. In nuclear countries UK, France it is 60min.
There is no discussion about reliability in Germany as all experts are convinced 100% renewable with (pumped) storage can deliver excellent reliability, also due to far better distributed electricity generation.
Germany spent ~$200mln on consultancy studies in the nineties before they decided in 2000 to follow this Energiewende scenario (50% renewable in 2030, 80% in 2050).
“other EU community members are gong to be putting a lot of pressure on Germany over its rising emissions ”
For sure not as non of them reached the Kyoto targets, while Germany surpassed them already.
“its unpredictable electricity export/import demands.”
Wind and solar electricity supply is better predictable than big (nuclear) power plant supplied electricity. As such big power plants sometimes do fail in a second, more spinning spare etc is needed.
Furthermore, they have (enough) pumped storage capacity to absorb fluctuations. Practice shows that Germany is helps nuclear France with sudden needs if >2 NPP’s are off, while it becomes cold.
My problem with German energy “research” Bas is they lack a unbiased critical approach. You illustrate that propensity gloriously but also I dont really trust their economic numbers either.
Beyond that, two ongoing challenges illustrated in the following stories:
Germany’s population will decline to 65-70 million by 2060. That would be as much as 17 million fewer residents, or a decline of 15% to 21% within 50 years.
Within that population, the balance will shift significantly. At the moment, those aged over 65 are around 20% of the total population.
In 2030, the group of persons aged 65 and older will account for 29% of the total population; in 2060, every third person (34%) will be at least 65 years old. ( http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2013/11/demography )
FT: Grexit or Bankruptcy for Greece Within the Next 4 Years
The Financial Times article was entitled “Germany’s coalition will have to break promises.” It characteristically mentions that the leaders of the ruling coalition would not follow through with their promises to the German voters because there is “a lack of preparation by the political class for what will hit it in the next four years. The big threat to Germany over the next four years is not demography but the unfolding eurozone debt crisis. No matter which crisis resolution scenario prevails, some promises made to the electorate are going to be broken.” ( http://greece.greekreporter.com/2013/12/02/ft-grexit-or-bankruptcy-for-greece-within-the-next-4-years/ )
The higher costs they have incurred in energy while increasing pollution are going to be a added stress in coming difficult times. The German century is inevitably nearing its end. Low energy, no frontiers, no plans for expansion and virtually no growth.
Don’t discount biomass from foreign sources to play a big role in their Energiewende. It’s far more reliable than solar and wind. Just import shiploads of trees from the US, Canada, and Brazil, then burn them in FBCs or cyclone furnacea or gasify them and route the syngas through a combustion gas turbine or ICE. There’s more than enough biomass throughout the world to power a state Germany’s size.
It will be amusing when their green transition is a source of deforestation worldwide. But, well, they wanted this and, sometimes, you get what you want.
No, I do not trust German financial numbers:
German ministers used Irish shell firms to balance budget
Mr Eichel’s successor, Mr Steinbrück, continued the practice – covering the state’s pension liabilities with securitised pension obligations. To save taxes on the transactions, Berlin set up further companies in Ireland, named German Postal Pensions Securitisation 1 and 2. ( http://www.irishtimes.com/business/economy/german-ministers-used-irish-shell-firms-to-balance-budget-1.1613637 )
Germany has over 7.6 trillion euros in pension liabilities. Its GDP is around 2.5 trillion euros.
Its main pension vehicle is a pay as you go system – funds are not saved or invested.
Smaller more private funds exist but who knows what the funding level is.
“green transition is a source of deforestation ”
So only sustainable wood (woods owners committed to replant).
But still this generated debate because of the transport fuel. That makes electricity from wood only ~95%(?) green. Which implies it has no big future as it is ‘sure’ that after 2050 the new target will become 100% renewable electricity (my estimation). Few months ago I read a decision not to extend the use of biomass (cannot remember where).
The debate about upgrading the 80% renewable electricity 2050 targets is warming, as shown by starvinglion who mis-interpretated the pdf slightly. Though published by the Umweltbundesamt, it is only a contribution to the debate about a 95% GHG reduction in 2050 concerning all energy in line with some targets of the greens (assume many greens work in such environment agency).
I doubt whether Germany will reach their own target of 40% GHG reduction in 2020 (Kyoto is 20%). Not impossible, but then the grid upgrades really need to speed up. This summer Merkel installed a new law which tackles the NIMBY delays as far as possible in a democratic society.
There is no discussion whether 100% renewable electricity (with reliable supply, etc) is possible. The last study of 2010 confirmed it again (after the studies of the nineties) and advocates an upgrade of the 2050 target from 80% renewable electricity towards 100%.
I assume intellectual Germans feel they are getting to far behind Denmark, which has 100% renewable for all energy in 2050.
Thought, this was an energy blog. Not sure what you try to tell with these here well-known economic/political issues. My opinion:
A debated issue since 2000. If it becomes a real issue (which I doubt very much), Germany can open the door for students and (intellectual) immigrants further.
Estimation range that we get 0%-60% of our money back. The euro-zone policy regarding bail-outs is in discussion.
My opinion: no help at all is best. So governments can no longer lend so much (or have to pay impossible interests). Bankruptcy is preferable as history shows that the deep crisis creates real restructuring and hence fast recovery. Greece did little last 3years as it was not absolute necessary. So they still are not competitive.
lower retirement age (63) for people that worked 45years
The crisis in the eighties also rising (youth) unemployment. Then we decided:
– Important for the youth (our future) to have work.
– No more work will be generated shortly in such ‘crisis’ situation. Even without crisis the volume of work to produce the same amount of goods etc will go down due to automation.
So the logic decision to distribute the available amount of work better among the population. Hence retirement for those who wanted with 61years (80% of salary until 65, then pension), and employer stimulation to hire youth. That helped great!
Now we forgot and did the opposite. Pension from 65 towards 67, etc.
And of course, as the volume of work did not rise, huge unemployment under our youth.
And no speedy end to the crisis.
Our right wing government even took other measures that deepened the crisis such as raising taxes, creating insecurity about pension levels (so people start to save more money), less mortgage tax deductions (so now people pay them off), etc. Just following the recommendations of IMF and directions of EU as obeying cows.
EL – I suggested nothing of the sort. In spite of your obvious character flaws, please at least have the decency to attribute claims and suggestions to their proper owners. That was Daniel’s claim, not mine, and his claim was not limited only to Germany.
Since you didn’t understand the first time, I’ll explain it again. All I suggested was that your historical evidence clearly didn’t support the contrary claim that you made.
The supplementary “evidence” that you have provided, while speculative in nature, seems to indicate that German industry is merely treading water, and this is before the consequences of the latest phase of German energy “policy” (more like energy dogma) have had any chance to take effect.
Rod – No, that’s more appropriate to describe energy policy decisions in Japan over the past couple of years. 😉
German energy policy decisions remind me of some of their other bad decisions, like deciding to invade Russia, not once, but twice in the twentieth century. I predict that recent German decisions will result in the Russians having the last laugh in the twenty-first century.
Russia is serious about energy. Germany is still playing with tinkertoys.
What are you talking about? I made a claim that evidence runs contrary to Daniel’s statement that Germany is undergoing or choosing deindustrialization. You took issue with this evidence. It now appears that you agree with my general statement, and that “evidence to the contrary” does indeed suggest Germany is maintaining an industrial position (despite significant regional and global headwinds).
Can you please make up your mind? It appears you are confusing many people here (perhaps even including yourself)?
I’m wondering if you could explain this to us. A great deal appears to have become garbled in the translation.
EL – Once again your evidence is less that satisfactory. The only person who appears to be confused is you, so “many people” = you. But at least on one point we can firmly agree, you are confused.
No translation is required, just some simple math. I used your link. I downloaded the data used for the graph that you claimed as “evidence.” From these data, I determined that the industrial productivity rose by 0.2% from September 2008 to September 2013, the latter date being the latest value in the series.
Note that 0.2% per five years is 0.4% per decade. This isn’t a difficult calculation.
So you’re making up numbers now to support a flawed argument?
The growth rate for the last decade is 24.5% (not 0.4%). When there are real numbers available, why use made up hypothetical ones. Yes, we all understand there was a global recession that took a sharp turn around September of 2008. Was there anything else you wished to bring to our attention by this unusual and fanciful math?
EL – The only think that is being made up is that lie you just told.
Everything that I have written is entirely accurate.
For what it’s worth, there are the historical numbers for increase in industrial production by decade:
1990’s 7% (probably an effect of reunification)
Industrial production rapidly increased in the first part of the 2000’s, increasing at a rate of 40% per decade from 2000 to the beginning of 2008. However, nobody that I am aware of, including Daniel, is claiming that Germany decided to deindustrialize ten years ago. So why are you using ten-year-old numbers? Do you really think that is relevant to anything?
If anything, it’s more logical to presume that this increase in industrial production was a major factor in convincing the Germans to cancel their planned nuclear phase-out in 2009.
As for the severity of consequences of the reintroduction of the phase-out resulting from a fit of hysteria over the tsunami in Japan, only time will tell. Certainly, we will not know how bad it will be by looking at old figures covering a period of time when all of the German nuclear plants were running and performing well.
I didn’t tell any lies, Brian. You did. Growth over last decade was 24.5%, and not 0.4% as you falsely report.
German industrial growth has held up well through the debt crisis in Europe and global recession. Eurozone has been lagging, and Germany has been bucking the trend. Industrial growth for last 5 years in UK: -10%. Industrial growth for France for last 5 years: -11.2%.
Is this how wish to win a debate. Lying again. I am not using 10 year old numbers. The last decade spans from 2003 to 2013. If you wish to speak of a deficit of decency, please give your own comments a bit more careful thought (and stop lying or misreading data as you have done so unambiguously above). It doesn’t help your argument any, especially when you falsely accuse others of things that are not true.
EL – This is becoming extremely boring and tedious, so this is the last time I’m going to waste any energy on it. If you want the last word, then fine … take it.
However, you have continually misrepresented what I have said, first by attributing Daniel’s words to me, then by misreporting or misunderstanding my figures. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that this is simply a case of poor reading comprehension on your part.
My exact words, as you can see above, are the following (emphasis added to drive the point home): “German industrial production has increased at a net rate of only 0.4% per decade in the past five years.”
Since math is clearly not your strong suit, I’ll show the calculation. Going from 108.3319 (9/2008) to 108.5331 (9/2013) is an increase of 0.19%. Since this increase was over five years that means that the average rate is 0.037%/year or about 0.4%/(10 years).
Finally, I should point out that if you are using data that span from 2003 to 2013 to determine trends, then you are looking at a trend that began in 2003, which is ten years ago. I guess this is too subtle of a point for you to understand, but I’m beyond caring at this point. I’m confident that anyone else who is reading this (and is probably as bored to tears with this subject as I am) understands what I’m saying.
This is a meaningless number. I believe most people here know that. No further debate is required.
I disagree. Curves that are flattening provide useful information.
Brian did not describe a flattening curve. He picked two peaks on a graph, and made an incorrect statement about a decade long growth pattern. I’m quite surprised you you don’t see the error in this?
@EL : The way you’re claiming to get upset about the interpretation of your numbers is tiring.
You provided one link here where the industrial production ends up essentially flat over the last few years http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=gm&v=78
And another one where a zoom on the period since 2000 clearly shows that production did not fully recover from the 2009 drop, and is perfectly flat since then :
Electricity is not everything in an economy. It is perfectly defensible that the strong increase that can be seen on this graph between 2004 and 2008 was due as explained by ZachF to salary restriction in Germany and massive exportations to other European countries that were growing at the cost of a large commercial deficit.
If this is your argument, then we are in agreement. Growth statistics show clear impact of global recession, and Euro-zone debt crisis. German resilience in industrial production is due to a number of factors as I have highlighted: policy decisions at the national level, reform of labor and trade markets, investments in advanced and innovative technologies, highly skilled and productive workforce, monetary issues in Eurozone (a la Zachf), and more. Germany is an outperformer (as I have suggested with numerous links), and is projected to have stronger growth in 2014 (in line with many of it’s trade partners).
To point to the largest and most successful economy in the Eurozone, outperforming it’s neighbors and with the largest share of manufacturing as share of GDP (and positive growth prospects despite significant regional and global headwinds) and say it is not competing or is undergoing deindustrialization is not very well substantiated. I’ve provided a great deal of evidence (national statistics, investor banking summaries, consultant reports, new reports, and the like) to make my case. Others have inaccurately suggested growth is 0.4% for the decade, or chosen one issue (high cost of retail consumer electricity or non-competitive labor costs) as a single factor accounting for this growth (or it’s lack thereof).
This is exasperating … I agree. I have made a robust case that looks at multiple considerations (and pointed to the success of German economy despite significant odds). Others have made information up. Zachf made a very interesting and compelling case, and I engaged him on it. He did not reply to those observations (here and here) and the discussion went no further.
OT: Rod, the hyperlink to the Morgan Brown piece in your 2005 article on “Too Cheap To Meter” is missing the href section.
Thanks. Fixed. Here’s the added URL
Off-topic perhaps, just though these comments interesting:
Nobody Builds Reactors For Fun Anymore
…”For any technological development to be possible, the technology needs to drive itself with the fuel of Darwinian innovation. It needs to generate all possible ideas – including the weird ones – and then fish out the best while ruthlessly weeding out the worst. … Nothing like this happened with nuclear power. It was a technology whose development was dictated by a few prominent government and military officials and large organizations and straitjacketed within narrow constraints. … The result was that the field remained both scientifically narrow and expensive. Even today there are only a handful of companies building and operating most of the world’s reactors. ”
The future of nuclear power: Let a thousand flowers bloom
Wonderful article. It includes a quote I’ve seen before, but puts it in context very nicely.
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