GSSC’s 2017 Fall Meeting was held October 24-25 in Ocean Springs, MS. In keeping with GSSC’s mission, the meeting featured a broad lineup of keynotes and speakers focused on workforce trends, best practice models, and the state of the industry from local and national leaders. A tour of the GSSC Shipbuilder Academy pilot training site at Ingalls Shipbuilding and a panel discussion with education leaders regarding expanding the pilot program across the gulf coast rounded out the two-day event. 

Keynotes from National and State Leaders

GSSC’s Board of Directors met the morning of the 24th. The opening keynote was delivered by Matt Paxton, president of the Shipbuilders Council of America (SCA) on Wednesday. Paxton offered national insights on the state of the industry. View presentation.

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant delivered Thursday’s luncheon keynote and focused his remarks on workforce development initiatives in the state of Mississippi and his state’s efforts to build the talent pipeline for the shipbuilding and repair industry.

Wednesday Sessions included: 

  • MCEF A Statewide Solution to Recruiting and Training Tomorrow’s Workforce.  The Mississippi Construction Education Foundation is a statewide program working with industry partners, the MS Department of Education, and NCCER to promote, train, and recruit craft professional in that state. Mike Barkett, the organization’s president, presented an overview of the program. View presentation.
  • Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Apprenticeship and Employment. Julie Kuklinski, executive director of Mississippi’s Women in Construction program, explored best practices to follow to recruit, place, and retain women in the shipbuilding industry and the challenges and resources necessary for women to be successful on the job in this interactive session. The session featured an introduction to the Women in Construction Program, a successful model committed to (1) advancing women’s economic security through training and (2) giving them the tools needed to help them succeed in apprenticeship and non-traditional occupations. View presentation.
  • JROTC STEM Academy: A Focus on Shipbuilding and Repair. A program of the Mobile County Public Schools, in collaboration with key stakeholders and community organizations, the JROTC Stem Leadership Academy engages a unique population of high school students, 9th and 10th grade JROTC Cadets, in STEM content, skills and fields of study needed by business and industry. With a focus on developing career interest in opportunities in shipbuilding and repair, Robert Barrow, director of Army Instruction with the school system, outlined the objectives of the program and highlighted proposed activities for the 2018 session. View Presentation

On Thursday sessions continued with:

  • A Regional Approach to Building the Talent Pipeline. Larry Mouton, assistant superintendent from Mobile County Public Schools, and Dr. Jerry Morgan, director from Jackson County Technology Center, participated in a panel discussion led by Jeff Allman, strategic planner at Ingalls Shipbuilding to review lessons learned and brainstorm ideas for expanding GSSC’s Shipbuilder Academy across the gulf coast. Piloted by Ingalls Shipbuilding and housed at the shipyard, the program was designed to establish and maintain a viable Shipbuilder career pathway in addition to career pathways currently available in high schools today.
  • NCCER and NMEC:  News and Updates.  John Havlik, Senior Workforce Development manager at NCCER updated attendees on NCCER’s recently released new testing system and the launch of its enhanced pipeline program.  Audrey Kennedy, program manager for the National Maritime Education Council (NMEC) updated the group on the organization’s continuing efforts to develop a national workforce system for the maritime industry.
  • Transports:  A Fast Track to Apprenticeship.  Barbara Murray, Executive Director, introduced the group to TransPORTS, a U.S. Department of Labor industry intermediary focused on helping industry partners create effective, sustainable Registered apprenticeship programs. The session explored how registered apprenticeship and resources provided through TransPORTS can help you grow a workforce and allow workers to earn industry-valued credentials that increase employers’ competitive advantage.  View Presentation.

The meeting featured good food, meaningful conversations, opportunities to meet with Exhibitors and Sponsors, plenty of networking opportunities, informative presentations and a few door prizes. The meeting  adjourned at 2:00 p.m., October 25.  Thanks for helping make this meeting such a success!


Special thanks to our sponsors and exhibitors who helped make GSSC’s 2017 Fall Meeting possible!



Click to visit NCCER's website.






Click to visit NCCER's website.