Since 1899, the Coast Guard's shipyard at Curtis Bay has added years to the life of the sea-battered fleet, repairing and upgrading hundreds of cutters before sending them back on patrol.
So in 2002 when shipyard officials looked at the future and saw a graying workforce with an average age of 47, they crafted a rejuvenation plan based on nurturing home-grown talent.
The trades training program they created has placed 125 students and graduates in the Curtis Bay workforce, which numbers 625. The apprentices receive not just trades training but college credits. Many go on to complete an associate's degree.
The apprenticeship experience is "dirty and exhausting and...