(Via Star Advertiser)
Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard said it plans to hire 731 workers this fiscal year, a significant boost for high-paying jobs at the state’s largest industrial employer.
The shipyard has 4,523 civilian workers and 462 military members, spokesman Sean Hughes said.
The shipyard apprentice class of 306 new hires is expected to be the biggest the yard has ever seen — extending all the way back to World War II when the most hired in a year was a little more than 200, Hughes said Thursday.
A job fair for workers ranging from apprentices through engineers is expected to be held Jan. 28, he said.
The 731 new workers “significantly exceeds any number we’ve hired in recent history,” Hughes said. “We’re hiring to keep up with increased workload (and) we expect this will help back-fill approximately 270 expected losses through retirement and other departures this year.”
Apprentices start at just under $20 to $22 per hour depending on the trade, and about four years later make $29 to $31 an hour upon graduation, Hughes said.
Salaries for entry-level engineers range from $47,000 to $60,000, while more experienced engineers can make $150,000 a year or more.
“This is great news,” said Ben Toyama, who is with the Hawaii Federal Employees Metal Trades Council. “The union is waiting to see what all the (job) numbers look like — in which departments and which divisions. We’re not going to find out for about a week or so.”
The Navy is hiring at its four public shipyards nationwide as it attempts to play catch-up with overdue fleet maintenance due to sequestration, overtime restrictions and hiring freezes that reduced productivity.
Congress agreed to budget relief in 2014 and 2015 from federal spending cuts known as sequestration, and the Navy said its fiscal 2015 budget funds “the most critical deficiencies related to productivity and safety at our naval shipyards.”
The shipyard typically hires 100 to 150 apprentices a year, “so our plan to hire 306 apprentices this year is an historic increase,” Hughes said. “It’s the most we’ve ever brought on in one year in over a century of service. At the peak of World War II, we had a class of over 200, but nothing near or over 300.”
Hughes said it takes several years to develop apprentices into skilled journeymen, “so we consider this year to be a very healthy long-term investment in our career talent pool.”
The shipyard also hires about 40 to 100 engineers each year, he said. This year more than 200 engineers are being brought on board.
“This increase in workload is due to increased fleet demands for submarine and surface ship maintenance across the Navy, as well as support to the new home-ported submarines in Hawaii and Guam as part of the Navy’s rebalance to the Pacific,” Hughes said.
About 90 percent of the shipyard work is on submarines. The USS Mississippi became the fourth Virginia-class attack submarine to be based at Pearl Harbor when it arrived Nov. 25. Hawaii also is home to 14 Los Angeles-class attack submarines, the Navy said.
Other jobs the shipyard will be looking to fill this year include information technology specialists, contract specialists and other waterfront production helpers and laborers, Hughes said.
Hiring has fluctuated over the past few years. The shipyard hired 371 people in fiscal 2012, 163 people in fiscal 2013 (down primarily due to sequestration and the hiring freeze) and 406 people in fiscal 2014, Hughes said.
Part of the Pearl Harbor hiring has to do with revitalization of an aging workforce.
“We’ve got a little over 900 people at the shipyard who are retirement-eligible, so that’s a lot of folks who could be going out the door,” Hughes said. “We expect some attrition over the next few years, so we’ve got to back-fill.”
The shipyard usually does an annual apprentice job fair, but a consolidated effort will be held Jan. 28 for apprentices, engineers and other positions during Job Quest 2015 at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, Hughes said.
All job listings, as well as employment applications, are exclusively at USAJobs.gov, Hughes said. He added that all new hires must be U.S. citizens and be eligible to obtain and maintain a security clearance.