July 19, 2021

Deborah Granger, Program Manager
Working Waterfront Collation
(360) 223-3994

Whatcom Working Waterfront Foundation Proudly Launches The Northwest Maritime Apprenticeship

The Whatcom Working Waterfront Foundation, an affiliate of the Working Waterfront Coalition of Whatcom County, proudly announces approval of the Northwest Maritime Apprenticeship program. The Washington State Apprenticeship and Training Council voted unanimously on July 15, 2021, at their quarterly meeting to provisionally approve this new workforce development effort. This Registered Apprenticeship provisional approval status is required to begin developing this program for businesses and apprentices in Whatcom and Skagit Counties. 

With a thriving maritime sector in Whatcom County (over 6,000 jobs representing 7% of our region’s workforce), these marine trades businesses are in desperate need of trained workers. From diesel engine repair to boat building/repair to fitting and rigging, this comprehensive, competency-based education/training program will provide Whatcom and Skagit County businesses with the trained workers needed to maintain and grow this booming sector.

Workers will also benefit from a comprehensive progressive on-the-job training program combined with a supplementary classroom-based learning component. Apprentices progress through various modules coupled with their work-based employment to achieve full journeymanlevel certification.

We are pleased to offer this new “earn-while-you-learn” apprenticeship program in the “Marine Service Technician” occupation. Apprentices will receive specific training in general marine technology and safety; gasoline and diesel engine repair; repair of wooden/fiberglass metal and composite hulls; installation and repair of electrical systems and electronic navigational equipment; repair/maintenance of shaft and propellers; paint and finish applications; operations/maintenance of steering, throttle, remote fuel and sanitation systems; master sailboat rigging techniques; practice rules and regulations of maritime law; and more.

The classroom-based supplemental component is adapted from a similar training program in British Columbia. The Quadrant Marine Services Institute in B.C., in operation for 25 years, graduates over 20 apprentices each year, ensuring a trained and competent workforce serving the needs of the skilled marine trades and recreational/commercial fishing boat sector.

Two Whatcom County companies, Northwest Diesel Power and NW Explorations, have worked collaboratively and diligently with Gary Peterson (Washington State Labor & Industries Apprentice Consultant) and Deborah Granger (Working Waterfront Foundation) to develop the many required components for the State of Washington Registered Apprenticeship program. Ann Avary (Director of the Center of Excellence for Marine Manufacturing & Technology, Skagit Valley College) and Washington Sea Grant have also provided key support in the application process.

“This Marine Service Technician Apprenticeship offers waterfront businesses the clear opportunity to hire and train workers in a competency-based progression. With this program, new hires are able to contribute fully to a company’s bottom line much sooner”, says John Nassichuk, General Manager, NW Explorations.

The Working Waterfront Foundation and members of the Committee (NW Explorations and NW Diesel Power), following the state provisional approval of the Northwest Maritime Apprenticeship, will now proceed full-steam ahead with the many steps required to launch this program. Intended to serve additional Whatcom and Skagit County businesses and a full cohort of apprentices, this new apprenticeship program is set to officially launch Fall of 2021.

Positioned on the shores of the Salish Sea, our region is blessed with abundant marine waters. Building, repairing, and maintaining vessels to ply these waters requires highly-skilled and competent workers to ensure safe and successful navigation and environmental stewardship of our marine waters. Programs such as the newly-approved Northwest Maritime Apprenticeship program, producing trained competent Marine Service Technicians, ensures that our region continues as a hub of skilled marine service technicians.

About the Working Waterfront Coalition of Whatcom County: With over 145 members representing businesses and individuals in 7 sectors (marine trades, charter/broker/passenger boats, marine retail/chandlery, commercial fishing, seafood processing, manufacturing/boatyards, and associates) the Coalition works to promote the vitality and economic benefits of the maritime sector for all residents of Whatcom County.

About Whatcom Working Waterfront Foundation: A 501c-3 tax-exempt organization, the Foundation supports programs (education/training, scholarships, maritime heritage, etc.) to enhance the maritime sector of Whatcom County.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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