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It’s All Hands on Deck for Fleet Maintenance Jobs

docked ship

With the construction of new ships, service-life extension programs, a bevy of new destroyers and littoral combat ships, the Navy’s fleet will grow to 326 ships in 2023, an increase of 46 ships over just the next five years.

“With 400-500 people working on a cruiser or combat ship and around 5,000 for an aircraft carrier, expanding Navy’s fleet will have a significant impact on an industry that’s already engaged in all-out hiring efforts to support upkeep and maintenance,” notes Dave Majerowicz, Aerotek director of business development and an Air Force veteran. “The need to adhere to a strict schedule, getting ships in and out on time, drives a need to recruit the qualified workers to get the job done,” he adds.

Workforce realities

At the same time, Majerowicz says, “the labor market is already extremely competitive, meaning employers need to be strategic about how they recruit and retain workers.”

To secure the manpower needed, employers are constantly evaluating pay rates, he says. “A specialty welder might be commanding a pay rate of $50/hour,” he notes. “I’ve never seen pay as high as it is now in the industry,” he says, “and it’s still difficult for some employers to fill all the open positions even at that rate.”

Deep pool of military labor

Veterans are an attractive population for employers to target for recruitment, Majerowicz says. “Since many of the job candidates come from the Navy, they have a strong level of dedication to the highest levels of quality because they feel a sense of commitment to the crew that will take the ship out once it’s ready to go back out to sea.” Currently, he estimates, veterans make up roughly half the workforce conducting ship maintenance, repair and modernization.

He notes the high quality of candidates that come from military backgrounds. “I heard a three-star general say, ‘Only one percent of the population is qualified to serve in the military. Then they come out of the military with very desirable skills and that makes them even more attractive as job candidates.’ ”

The demand he’s seeing right now, Majerowicz says, is for workers in all skill sets and all experience levels. “We’re seeing a lot of hiring for entry-level positions such as trade helpers or forewatch, skilled tradespeople and specialists as well as engineers and naval architects.”

Majerowicz, who spent just under 15 years in the Air Force, has unique insight into the opportunities former service people are qualified for. After he left the military and joined Aerotek, he discovered that “core values such as integrity, work ethic and service before self” that he learned and practiced in the military, served him well in his civilian career.

“These [values] were ingrained in me from basic training throughout my time in the military,” says Majerowicz. “The Military’s essential building blocks prepared me well for a civilian career and for life in general.”

Want to know more about recruiting tactics in a light labor market? Contact Aerotek now.