Career Technical Education: Boat building at Washington High School

Published 8:01 am Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The boating industry employs a total of 1,200 plus employees in Beaufort and Pitt Counties combined. Beaufort County employees 600 plus by itself. The boating industry is one of the two largest manufacturing sectors in Beaufort County. Filter manufacturing is the other.

The largest boat manufacturers include Iconic Marine Group, MJM Yachts, Grady-White Boats and World Cat. There are several smaller manufacturers and businesses that service the boating industry.

Due to turnover and growth, the boating industry is constantly in need of more and better employees. Turnover is employees leaving for one reason or another. Like any other industry or business, turnover is a problem. How large, I don’t have a clue.

Long-term and skilled workers are not normally the largest part of the problem. The problem is new hires and first year employees. Part of the problem can be education, training, motivation or just not wanting to work period. Unfortunately, some do not know how to work.

Entrance level employees will normally struggle more than those receiving training or education in boat building.

To address the needs of boating and other industry, Beaufort County Schools (BCS) and Beaufort County Community College (BCCC) provide educational programs and training to help fulfill the needs of business and industry.

From my experience over the years, I know that BCS and BCCC are good at what they do to help business and industry.

At Washington High School, BCS has constructed the Boat Building Academy; a first-class facility to teach boat building. Ken Adams is the instructor and has years of experience working in the boat building industry.

Not only does he instruct, he interacts with the boating industry. They have a resource in Ken Adams that is way beyond just teaching. In other words, Ken has become a partner with the boating industry.

Victoria Hamill is the Director of Career Technical Education (CTE). She is responsible for all the CTE programs at Beaufort County Schools.

BCS offers two courses in boat building, Boat Building I and Boat Building II.

Boat Building I is the introduction to boat building. This introduces students to boat types, boating vocabulary, materials and building techniques. Covered topics include shop safety and practices, lofting, blueprints, fasteners, wood, metal and composite materials.

Boat Building II focuses on understanding and applying the processes and skills to use a building plan, create a materials list, cost analysis and build a boat project such as a skiff or similar design.

To me, this is pretty good stuff and enjoyable practical course for students to enroll in. It can be a start to a career. It is also enough training to get an entrance-level job at one of the boat building companies in Beaufort County.

Career Technical Education creates future opportunities for BCS graduates. CTE programs at the high school level include the firefighting academy, welding, animal science, computer science, carpentry and drone technology. Career Technical Education is alive and well at Beaufort County Schools with more to come.

Al Klemm is a Washington resident and a former Beaufort County Commissioner.