ORANGE PARK – Seniors and recent graduates at Orange Park High School listened Jan. 8 as Fleet Readiness Center Southeast’s Career Division Director Vince Elston rattled off the benefits of the …
ORANGE PARK – Seniors and recent graduates at Orange Park High School listened Jan. 8 as Fleet Readiness Center Southeast’s Career Division Director Vince Elston rattled off the benefits of the Navy command’s civilian apprenticeship program.
The program, which is now accepting applicants for 97 positions through the USAjobs.gov website, offers paid training, beginning at $15.60 per hour, and a guaranteed federal job in the field once the three-to-four-year program is successfully completed.
“We’re looking for a new generation of employees who are seeking a stable, profitable career,” said Capt. Trent DeMoss, FRCSE commanding officer. “This is a chance for people to learn a skilled trade, contribute to the defense of our country and get paid while they do it.”
The 97 vacancies include apprenticeships for trades such as electronics mechanic, machinist, sheet metal mechanic, painting and aircraft mechanic. These skills will be learned through a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction.
In a partnership with St. Johns River State College, those selected for the program will receive 18 credit hours of college courses at the school at no cost to the student.
Elston has been touring high schools in Clay, Duval, Putnam and St. Johns counties in recent months.
“You should see their eyes when we tell them we’re going to bring them onboard at $15.60 an hour, pay them to learn a valuable trade and give them a $1.05 raise every six months they successfully complete,” Elston said. “Once they finish the course, they’ve got a job waiting on them with no student loans to pay back.”
However, the benefits are mutual for the apprentices and the military aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul facility.
“The average age of our artisans is between 48 and 50 years old,” Elston said. “We need to get new employees in here, and get them trained, before we start to lose the experienced artisans we have now.”
Along with being paid to learn a skilled trade, free college courses and a guaranteed job after successfully completing the course, apprentices will also start off earning 13 days of annual leave and 13 days of sick leave per year.
Department of the Navy civilian employees also earn a pension and have their contributions to their 401(k)-style retirement account matched up to five percent.
With a combined workforce of more than 5,500 employees, FRCSE is the largest industrial employer in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia.
“These are the types of opportunities people say no longer exist,” DeMoss said. “They do, and they’re right here in Jacksonville.”
The last day to apply for the program is Feb. 1. Questions regarding academic requirements can be directed to St. Johns River State College Career and Technical Education Advisor Jennifer Griner via email at jennifergriner@SJRstate.edu or by phone at (904) 276-6800.
For questions about the FRCSE apprenticeship program, contact Career Development Director Vince Elston via email at email@example.com or by phone at (904) 790-7536.