“But the pathway exists to move
up through the trades or engineering into management, and even
department head,” he said.
Pang has one more semester to
go and she will be half way through
“After you’ve been in the pro-
gram for a year or so, you realize
this isn’t just a job, it’s more,” Pang
said. “It’s a career. From the very
beginning they want everyone to
succeed. As apprentices, we all help
each other to reach our goals.”
Because of the need to infuse
new apprentices into the shipyard
as older workers retire or leave for
other jobs, there is a statutory min-
imum of 100 candidates in each
class. The number of applicants accepted largely
depends on the anticipated attrition at the shipyard.
This year, 137 apprentices will graduate from HCC.
The incoming class of 2012 will have 149 apprentices.
Pang had been “pushing out planes” for Hawaiian Airlines at the Honolulu
Airport and had her own business, a Subway franchise in downtown Honolulu,
before joining the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard apprentice program at age 26.
The average age of the class of apprentices each year is about 30.
Some have work experience or come with trade skills,
while others are fresh out of high school. But everyone
who comes aboard has to be able to contribute in a
meaningful way. The program gives the participants a
way to obtain an education and become proficient in
At the beginning, they are assigned mentors and
spend time walking the shop floor where they will be
working. They undergo new employee orientation and
The apprentices spend much of their first two years
attending classes at an HCC satellite facility located on
the shipyard. They attend courses in the morning and
then learn trade theory, taught by instructors from
their particular shop.
“We have about 100 production department people
who are dedicated to training, including working with
our apprentices,” Watanabe said.
After receiving their Associate of Science in Applied
Trades degree, the apprentices receive continued training while they work with their shop, gaining experience
for two more years so that they can be certified according to Department of Labor standards as journeymen —
now referred to as “journeyworkers.” Eventually, they
can become a work leader and master craftsman, and
then a supervisor or even project superintendent.
Fogel understands that not everyone wants to
become a supervisor.
Fogel said the apprentices find that they are becoming
members of a family.
“You see your coworkers get married, have kids, go
to their kids’ weddings, see them become grandpar-
ents. The family ties are very strong. You get very
attached to your colleagues,” Pang said. “We get that
sense of family from Day 1.”
“Ohana is our family culture,” Watanabe said. “In
the Navy, we have the core values of honor, courage
and commitment. Here at the shipyard, we also have
‘Aloha’ as a value.”
According to the shipyard’s values statement,
“Aloha includes love and respect — love and respect
for our country, for our Shipyard and for one another.
Through aloha we trust and respect one another, we
allow each person to express themselves and be appre-
ciated for the value they add to the team, and we grow
together in service to our Shipyard as an empowered
“The yard has a management style where employees
are empowered and enabled, and that has helped our
organization to grow,” Watanabe said.