MGCCC welding, shipfitter programs train students for high-demand careers

) A welding student at the Jackson County Campus demonstrates skills he has learned as part of pre-employment welding training.

A welding student at the Jackson County Campus demonstrates skills he has learned as part of pre-employment welding training.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College pre-employment welding and shipfitting programs placed almost 700 trainees in jobs along the Gulf Coast during 2013.  The programs, operated in partnership with Ingalls Shipbuilding, Gulf Ship, Gulf Coast Shipyard Group, LLC, V.T. Halter Marine and Gulf States Shipbuilding Consortium, were offered at the Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center in Gulfport, the Jackson County and Perkinston campuses, and at the George County center.

“These programs are very successful, helping local residents who are unemployed or underemployed and local industries, which in turn helps South Mississippi’s economy,” said Larry Porter, the MGCCC master trainer who oversees the program.  “For the past couple of years, there has been a critical demand for welders and shipfitters in our area, which is why we reach out for partnerships with that industry.”

Mark Scott, manager of project training at Ingalls Shipbuilding, said that students who complete the programs are offered jobs, can expect to be paid well and that the retention rate is excellent.  “The training programs at MGCCC represent a true partnership between Ingalls and the college. The MGCCC instructors, as well as the curriculum to support our program, set the standard for industry training. Programs like this have a positive effect on our ability to hire high-quality shipbuilders and will contribute to our competitiveness and success in the future.” He said Ingalls has a retention rate of 88 percent after 16 months of employment for the students who complete MGCCC’s training.

Porter said that classes are running at both AMTC and the Jackson County Campus this year.  “We are currently running shipfitters boot camp classes and pre-employment welding classes at those two locations.”

Classes are offered during the day and evening to offer the most flexibility for those who attend.  Additionally, a job fair is included at the end of each shipfitting program that allows graduates to talk face-to-face with potential employers.

For more information on the programs and how to apply, contact Virginia Overstreet, WIA coordinator, at the WIN Job Center at 228.897.6912 or


Kathy McAdams is an award-winning journalist who has worked at weekly newspapers in Mississippi and the Press-Register in Mobile, Ala. A native of Gulfport, McAdams attended Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, William Carey University, the University of South Alabama and The University of Southern Mississippi. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and journalism and a master's degree in education and English. She has worked at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College since 2005.