Full Steam Ahead
New programs, new money and ambitious goals: Senior Director Rick Schwab shares the latest news at the Delgado Maritime and Industrial Training Center.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of water transportation workers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026. The Delgado Maritime and Industrial Training Center has every intention of keeping up with this growth, meeting mariners’ training needs in ways that will keep them employable.
The vision of the Delgado Maritime and Industrial Training Center is to provide quality training programs at affordable costs to our region and beyond, and to meet market and labor demands, with the ever-present bottom line of customizing training to fulfill the dynamic needs of the maritime industry.
I’m proud to say we were recently cited in Marine News magazine as one of the 100 best organizations in the international maritime industry. This is not a designation that we take lightly. This training center has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the late 1970s by focusing on training for inland and coastal waterways and expanding programs over the years to include gap closure courses that mariners need to keep their licenses current.
The center’s 2019-2020 strategic goals begin with maintaining connected relationships with maritime industry partners. The goal is to train, retrain and advance mariners to comply with new and existing regulations as required by an ever-evolving industry, always willing to customize training to assist individual companies in keeping a competitive edge on their marketplace.
An excellent example of this is our brand-new deckhand training program, which came to fruition in response to companies’ desires for quality programs to introduce younger generations to the maritime workforce. The deckhand program, as an example, was realized by getting industry input, having instructors create the concept and program curriculum, and finally utilizing a variety of funding sources and donations to bring a vision to reality. We feel this deckhand program was a much-needed resource to train the industry newcomers that will fill employment demand. The Delgado center has run two successful deckhand sessions, complete with continued industry input and ongoing tweaking as needed, to meet with industry standards.
A second example is the recent addition of engineering programs such as MEECE (Management of Electrical and Electronic Control Equipment), Engine Room Resource Management, and QMED-Oiler. We feel these are effective additions that address training for engine room personnel on vessels.
Our strategic plan will branch out further with alternate funding, capital outlay projects and additional training programs that will be steered by our industry advisory boards to keep us ahead of the times.
On the financial track, Delgado recently secured a Louisiana Rapid Response grant, a grant specifically designed to provide training to an aging workforce and greenhorns, and to cross-train positions. This Rapid Response Grant will also afford us the opportunity to train mariners, old and new, in expanded safety, navigational, wheelhouse simulation, radar, virtual reality and dynamic positioning assessment. We are especially excited about adding this last component to our training list. We are currently working with the Offshore Service Vessel Dynamic Positioning Authority (OSVDPA) to complete all the necessary steps in order to make this program happen within the next six months.
Looking for high-tech solutions is also a “must-do” on our goals list. We are currently utilizing XVR Virtual Reality Simulation for a variety of programs and a host of scenarios, each customized by an instructor to meet industry needs.
Virtual reality has also found its practical application in our newly approved U.S. Coast Guard four-day Advanced Fire Fighting course, specifically designed for command and control training for licensed mariners. This course will open for enrollment in March 2019.
We continue to look at expansion opportunities. Both the Maritime and Industrial Training Center and the Advanced Manufacturing River City site will look at eventually combining resources to provide complete, all-encompassing training programs.
Looming on the near horizon is our intent to apply for the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Federal Center of Excellence as a candidate for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. We are confident that we will be selected as a Center of Excellence, opening doors for additional resources. In turn, this will allow us to assist even more companies and individuals to meet the ever-growing demand for competent mariners.
Rick Schwab has been the senior director of the Delgado Community College Maritime and Industrial Training Center for 24 years, with more than 30 years of business management experience overall. In November 2018, he was selected to be the interim executive director of Delgado’s new Advanced Manufacturing and Technical Center at the River City site.