HAVERHILL – Whittier Tech has launched a new marine technology program, the school’s 23rd career pathway, tailored for students interested in learning how to repair and maintain boats and marine engines.
Whittier principal Maureen Lynch said the plan was approved by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in the summer. Only three other vocational high schools in the state offer marine technology programs, she said, noting they are located on the South Shore and Cape Cod.
Careers coordinator Paul Moskevitz said the region really needed sea service from the North Shore, Merrimack Valley, the coast and “everything in between”.
“Our instructor Mike Murray worked really hard to get the project running,” he said. “This program brings even more opportunities to Whittier students.”
The Class of 2026 will be the first to be able to pursue Whittier’s new marine technology program. Currently, 306 ninth graders are participating in Whittier Tech’s Discovery program and will choose a trade route in January, school officials said.
During their marine technology rotations, freshmen are learning about boat parts, concepts of buoyancy, annual boat maintenance, replacing pumps, and more.
Freshman Argelis Vargas from Haverhill said he really enjoys his current experience, especially with Marine Tech.
“It’s hands-on,” he said. “I’m not stuck in a classroom.”
Whittier Tech was awarded a $181,778 Skills Capital Grant to support the new program. With the funding, Whittier purchased Parker-branded boats, Yamaha-branded WaveRunners and Sea-Doo GTRs for student learning, Yamaha outboards for student training, and a new ventilation system for engine exhaust .
Students who choose to pursue this pathway will learn how to operate, maintain, repair, rebuild and install onboard systems, as well as hull maintenance and repair, marine canvas fabrication and repair, operation and repair of gas and diesel engines, and welding and precision metals manufacture.
They will also gain relevant certifications, learn how to operate a boat safely, and obtain a boating license. Students will have the opportunity to earn a captain’s license in their senior year, school officials said.
Since summer 2021, Whittier Tech has provided marine service technology through its Adult Evening Education program with support from the Massachusetts Marine Trade Association and a donation from Yamaha.
School officials say the program has trained three categories of unemployed or underemployed workers for entry-level jobs in this high-demand field. All graduates leave the program after passing the Yamaha certificate test and earning the Outboard Systems Introduction certificate.
Massachusetts’ recreational boating industry has an economic impact of $4.4 billion and employs more than 20,000 men and women, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association. However, both in Massachusetts and across the country, the industry has experienced significant labor shortages.
“There are many opportunities in the marine industry. We want to connect students to these high-paying jobs and career opportunities through our new program,” Lynch said. “Expanding this program to students during the day is a joint effort of faculty, community partners, and more. We are grateful to all who have made the introduction of this new pathway possible.”