Bath Iron Works. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

Some students at Southern Maine Community College are already being offered free entry-level manufacturing courses in partnership with Bath Iron Works. Now they are getting paid to participate.

Bath Iron Works is sweetening the pot with a $500 stipend for participating students as the shipyard seeks to replace skilled workers who are retiring by the hundreds over the next few years.

Jon Mason, director of human resources at the Bath shipyard, told The Times Record that the shipyard took on just over 1,000 new workers in 2019 and plans to match that number in 2020, then add another 600 to 800 workers in 2021.

The three-week courses teach students basic trade skills useful to the shipyard, such as welding. Mason said the shipyard has hired more than 100 new employees through the program.