A defense contractor that’s one of northern Wisconsin’s largest employers is struggling to recruit recent high school graduates for some of the region’s best-paying jobs.
Marinette Marine Corp. says it is holding open 40 positions in its training program for welders and other shipyard jobs, hoping to attract recent grads from the area around Marinette and nearby Menominee, Mich.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the company has reached out to nine schools, but only seven recent graduates have applied for the training program, which begins in July. While the company prefers homegrown talent, it may widen its search.
A typical employee at the shipyard can earn $30,000 to $40,000 a year. Some earn more than $60,000 with overtime. Yet, like many companies, Marinette Marine is struggling to persuade people to enter the skilled trades, including welding, pipefitting and electrical work.
Each Navy littoral combat ship Marinette Marine makes takes about 40 months to build. The 10 ships under contract will keep the work going for nine to 12 years, and longer if Marinette wins additional ships in a new round of bids in 2016.
The company has added 600 jobs in the past 12 months, and now has 1,400 employees.
Right now, the future looks “pretty rosy for us,” Marinette Marine President and CEO Charles Goddard said. “We can easily handle 100 or more hires out of high schools in a year.”