Bay Area Industry-Led Initiative Building Pipeline of Ship Maintenance and Repair Workers

April is Second Chance Month, a national recognition of the importance of helping individuals, communities, and agencies across the country appreciate their role in supporting the safe and successful re-entry of millions of people returning from incarceration each year.

At the WDBCCC, we are proud to be part of a new Bay Area program that aims to support this population and other under-served, under-resourced individuals while promoting economic growth. The Workforce Waterfront Coalition is an industry-led initiative that seeks to create a pipeline of ship maintenance and repair workers.

Bobby Winston, CEO of the non-profit organization Friends of the Port, Bay Crossings proprietor and one of the founding members of the Bay Area’s ferry service, saw a need for skilled workers. He contacted Bill Elliott, founder and CEO of Bay Ship & Yacht, the Bay Area’s largest ship maintenance organization. With their contacts throughout the area’s maritime industry, the Working Waterfront Coalition was born.

 Additional partners from industry, education and workforce development include:

State Grant to Fund First Coalition Project: Marine Trades Skills Training Course

The Coalition’s first project is marine trades skills training. With a $500,000 grant from the California Workforce Development Board’s Workforce Accelerator Fund, partners seek to launch an 8- to 10-week course for 30 students in July 2024. The curriculum will be developed and approved by the Coalition’s industry advisory board. Class content includes extensive hands-on training with industry instructors, presentations by guest lecturers and employer site visits.

“A key element of this program is that students have early access to entry-level jobs through hiring agreements with industry advisory board members and partners,” said Sal Vaca, the Coalition project lead for WDBCCC. Vaca holds 35 years of workforce development & community experience with the City of Richmond.

Maritime jobs typically start at $50,000 annually, and workers can advance quickly to six-figure salaries. Jobs and careers in this industry include:

  • Marine technician
  • Marine machinist
  • Marine welder
  • Marine painter
  • Marine electrician
  • Equipment operator
  • Deckhand
  • Station agent
  • Captain assistant
  • Captain

Marine Trade Skills Program to Offer Diverse Benefits to Multiple Stakeholders in the Region

Vaca said the program offers a wide range of benefits for multiple populations and initiatives because it:

  • Provides job & career opportunities for under-served and under-resourced populations, including high school dropouts, the re-entry population, immigrants, limited English speakers and people experiencing homelessness
  • Delivers a pipeline of skilled talent for industry employers
  • Serves as an economic development tool for industry growth and business attraction, particularly along Contra Costa County’s north shore
  • Supports California’s long-term vision for offshore wind energy generation, as ships must deliver materials to build and repair the facilities

He added that another beneficiary of the Working Waterfront Coalition is the region’s tourism industry through museum ships. Richmond and other communities have World War II ships like the SS Red Oak Victory parked on their waterfronts for use as museums. However, budgets or volunteers to repair them are slim. Students will use their newly acquired skills to provide volunteer work on those ships as part of their hands-on experience.  

To learn more about the Working Waterfront Coalition, contact Sal Vaca at

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