SJR 91: Joint Subcommittee Studying Economic Incentives to Promote the Growth and Competitiveness of Virginia's Shipbuilding Industry

September 18, 2002
Newport News

During its second 2002 meeting, the joint subcommittee heard testimony on (i) career and technical education programs in Virginia's public schools and (ii) the Virginia Registered Apprenticeship Program.

Education Programs

The Code of Virginia requires the Board of Education to incorporate into career and technical education the Standards of Learning for mathematics, science, English, social studies, history, and other subject areas as may be appropriate. The Standards of Quality require local school boards to implement career and technical education programs.

The Board of Education's regulations for accrediting public schools in Virginia require instruction in career and technical education. Instruction in career and technical exploration must be provided in each middle school. In addition, at least three career and technical education programs and a minimum of 11 courses in career and technical education must be provided in Virginia's secondary schools. The joint subcommittee was told that 557,940 public school students in grades 6 through 12 were enrolled in career and technical education programs in the 2001–2002 scholastic year.

It was pointed out by certain members of the joint subcommittee that Virginia's shipyards face a shortage of machinists, electricians, riggers, crane operators and pipefitters, to name just a few trades. In addition, the chief officer of Norfolk Naval Shipyard testified that while his shipyard has enough work to keep its 7,500 laborers fully employed for the next six years, due to workers retiring and the lack of replacement labor, his shipyard is going to lose 500 jobs per year each of the next six years. Many of these are high-paying jobs.

The joint subcommittee expressed concern that career and technical education programs in Virginia's public schools, as currently structured, will not provide students with the necessary skills for employment in the technical and mechanical trades required in building and repairing ships. Representatives of Virginia's shipyards stated that they would like to meet with Hampton Roads' local school board superintendents and with representatives of the Department of Education to present recommendations for career and technical education in Virginia's public schools.

Apprenticeship Program

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry has primary responsibility for implementation of the Virginia Registered Apprenticeship program. One of the department's main functions under the program is to assist employer sponsors and employee apprentices to help employees become certified as journeypersons by the Commonwealth (the "journey-person" certification is a nationally recognized certification, which may provide more career opportunities for individuals obtaining it). Such assistance is provided by the department's field representatives and includes, among other things, registering employer sponsors and employee apprentices in Virginia's apprenticeship program and working with employees to develop an educational curriculum that will satisfy the educational component of their apprenticeship. The department has a total of nine field representatives in Richmond, Manassas, Verona, Norfolk, Roanoke, Abingdon, and Lynchburg. Virginia's Registered Apprenticeship Program is funded entirely from the general fund.

Under the program, employers register as participating sponsors with the department. Apprentices are employees of the sponsor who must complete supervised on-the-job training and related classroom instruction for each year of apprenticeship. On-the-job training is provided by journeypersons employed by the sponsor. The ratio of apprentices to journeypersons is generally one-to-one. The total cost of an employee's apprenticeship is normally paid by his employer (while there is no federal or state funding to pay for apprenticeship costs, employer sponsors may be eligible for the worker retraining tax credit provided under § 58.1-439.6 of the Code of Virginia).

The average term for an apprenticeship is four years. It can be longer depending upon the occupation. Virginia's apprenticeship program requires apprentices to complete a minimum of 2,000 hours of supervised on-the-job training and 144 hours of related classroom instruction per year.

Currently, there are more than 10,000 registered and active apprentices working throughout the Commonwealth representing about 300 different occupations.


The Hon. Thomas K. Norment, Jr.

For information, contact:

Mark Vucci
Division of Legislative Services


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