WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — For the first time, the Electric Boat shipmaking facility at Quonset Point in North Kingstown is hosting apprenticeship programs that allow students to take general education classes and earn college degrees while also learning on the job from experienced shipbuilders.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, Office of Apprenticeship, and Apprenticeship Rhode Island are collaborating with Electric Boat to form the goals and directives of the programs, which run three years in Maritime Pipe and Maritime Structural tracks. Completing the program nets a certificate from Electric Boat and an associate’s degree from the Community College of Rhode Island.

Cassidy O’Brien, a new apprentice at Electric Boat, told Eyewitness News the program is getting up to speed fast, and being the first-ever group through the program, they’re getting to figure out how it should work. But she’s enthusiastic: “I grew up in New Bedford, and there’s not a lot of opportunity there, but to have moved here and to have access to this now is just amazing, and I feel truly blessed.”

O’Brien said she also looks forward to the opportunity to get a full journeyman’s license through state boards, enabling budding engineers like herself to be able to see every angle of the submarines being built. Her goal is to start designing future classes of submarines. 

Gov. Gina Raimondo told the dozens of apprentices entering the program that it’s going to be hard work, “but it’s going to be worth it, and you can do it. You’re going to have to balance your day job with college but there’s a payoff if you do it, which is a better job with more money, opportunity to advance; It’s good for you, it’s good for your kids, and it’s good for Rhode Island.”

Those interested in joining the program should contact CCRI’s Division of Workforce Partnerships.

Electric Boat broke ground on a $792 million expansion in June after the company said in May that it hopes to hire 1,300 more people in Rhode Island.