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TCC among five community colleges collaborating on mobile lab for shipyard job training

Five of Virginia’s Community Colleges and Newport News Shipbuilding will celebrate their successful collaboration next week of the creation of a mobile unit that equips students enrolled in the Hampton Roads Marine Skilled Training Program with the skills they need for jobs at the shipyard.

Tidewater Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College, Paul D. Camp Community College, Eastern Shore Community College and Rappahannock Community College partnered with the Virginia Community College System and Newport News Shipbuilding to create the mobile unit.

A ribbon cutting on Sept. 16 at 9 a.m., at the TCC Center for Workforce Solutions in Suffolk, will signify the official opening of the mobile unit.

The Hampton Roads Marine Skilled Mobile Laboratory, housed in a 40-foot 18-wheeler trailer owned and operated by TCC, contains a mock-up for various training programs and replicates training labs available at the shipyard’s waterfront. The unique facility will be shared among the five Southeastern Virginia community colleges to provide training for jobs at Newport News Shipbuilding.

TCC President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani said that impending retirements in Hampton Roads industries are creating unprecedented demand for replacement workers. “The growing need for skilled technicians in Hampton Roads, coupled with limited space at area colleges to meet the demand, generated a historic partnership among the region’s community colleges,” she said. “The mobile lab is an innovative resource capable of visiting any community college campus in our area.”

Since the first class in February, the program has afforded trainees the opportunity to receive training in Marine Electrician, Surface Preparation and Coatings and Outside Machinists. A welding program is being developed.

“There is power in partnership when multiple community colleges collaborate to respond to the needs of the greater community,” said John Dever, president of Thomas Nelson Community College. “Fueled by workforce training funds and supported by the resources and trades expertise of Newport News Shipbuilding, the results have been greater than any one of us can achieve on our own.”

Following successful completion of the training and hiring by Newport News Shipbuilding, candidates are reimbursed the $250 tuition by the shipyard.

For information about the Hampton Roads Skilled Marine Trades Training Program, visit