Meet Jacob Vasquez (Houston, TX)

For Jacob Vasquez, working at the Port of Houston is a family tradition.
Jacob recalls his father, Johnny, who also works at the port port houston maritime apprenticevisiting Shanghai, China years ago as an engineering inspector for the port’s Bayport crane purchase. Today Jacob is an apprentice STS (ship to shore) crane electrician. He works at the Port of Houston’s Barbours Cut Container Terminal. He works on the same type of massive STS cranes that impressed his father on the other side of the world more than 10 years ago. Jacob began work at the port as an outside laborer in central maintenance and applied for the port’s new apprenticeship program in November 2017. “Apprenticeship represents a fantastic career opportunity,” notes Jacob. “It provides valuable skills and mentoring will help me grow professionally.” Apprenticeship provides numerous benefits for workers and employers.

Since Jacob had already been taking college classes it wasn’t difficult for him to tackle the apprentice program’s related technical instruction (RTI) courses. “I was pursuing my A.A.S. degree at a local college but didn’t have a specific field,” says Jacob. “I wanted to explore different career possibilities so I was taking a wide variety of classes. The apprenticeship program has helped focus me. Skilled tradesmen will always be needed so this is a good investment in my own future.” Trish Baker, assistant manager of maintenance at the Barbours Cut Container Terminal and an apprentice manager, is a big champion of apprenticeship. “We started the program with four apprentices at our terminal and three more at the port’s Bayport Container Terminal,” she explains. “When the port leadership committed to starting the program, we were thrilled. It helps us bring in younger and newer workers and train them according to our standards. They contribute to our work from day one, performing critical job functions that keep our port assets working at peak performance.”

Meet Stephan Shigley (Freeland, WA)

Stephan Shigley is a painter apprentice for Nichols Brothers Boat Builders, a boat building company in business in Washington State for over 50 years. TransPORTs helped the company expand its apprenticeship program, bringing on more apprenticesboat painter in paint covered coat washington state apprentice and building its future workforce. Stephan is part of the company’s marine paint division. “Our painters are experts in the vessel painting process; from proper preparation techniques, safety and environmental hazard awareness, application best practices, and coating quality and inspection,” says Human Resources Director Kevin Corrigan. “Our paint department is one of the most efficient marine vessel paint divisions in the industry within the Pacific Northwest.” Stephan takes great pride in his work. “I really like seeing a job from start to finish. Watching the process of a boat being transformed from ugly steel to a beautiful gem on the water is pretty amazing,” he notes. Stephan chose to pursue apprenticeship primarily because he knew that at the end of the three-year program he will earn a nationally-recognized industry credential that will allow him to earn a higher rate of pay from any employer. “Having the opportunity to earn scheduled raises as I improve my skill and learn a trade from an incredibly experienced mentor is really important to me as worker.” After working a full day Stephan studies at night for the classes he’s taking in courses related to his occupation, including coating prep, surface coating, fibrous protective coverings, and vendor training. Stephan is a strong ambassador for the industry. “I encourage students to go for it and enter the boat-building industry, especially as an apprentice. Getting into the industry while you’re young means you have more time to learn a great occupation, earn a good income and retire early!”