Part 1 – Workforce

Your love is like a ship in the ocean. And you’ve been boating with a cargo full of love and devotion. It’s time to rock the boat in Massachusetts!

Welcome sign on street for the Business of Boating (BOB) conference 2024This year the Massachusetts Marine Trades Association – Business of Boating (BOB) Conference had two main topics; workforce and regulations. It was awesome to see and hear from different schools. I’m a huge believer in sending our kids to vocational school where they can not only get a high school diploma but learn a trade as well. I sent my own two boys to Vocational School. the older one went on to college and is still in his field (culinary) 32 years later. My youngest one learned autobody. Once he graduated, he became a general contractor. He learned the business side from working in the office of a general contractor first. Then started his own roofing company.

I wish more people would see the advantages of a vocational school. Like their plumbers and electricians, it’s a great place to learn and grow. As a parent the best thing you can do is participate in your vocational school events.

The conference launched with Randall Lyons, Executive Director of Massachusetts Marine Trades Association (MMTA), at the helm. The MMTA is celebrating their 60th year. And has grown 184 members to 245 members over the last seven years, all while boasting a 95% retention rate.


School partnerships are essential and today there are approximately 15 different schools ranging from vocational/high school to college. One suggestion Lyons had was if you have a school in your area, join their advisory board, if possible. See if you can support them wherever needed. In 2020, approximately 50 people graduated with their certificate or graduate program from a high school marine training program. In 2024 this number is expected to rise to approximately 100. In 2026 the goal is to have about 150. “As a business or a boss,” says Lyons, “please reach out to those schools and programs that are producing the new students.” Workforce funding is one of the benefits the association offers its members. And tools of the trade for new employees entering the industry who’s focused on building their toolbox ($300 Snap-on gift card).

A branch of the MMTA is the Massachusetts Marine Trades Educational Trust (MMTET), a 501C3 non-profit organization created in 2002. MMTET provides a job and career site is which is –  MMTA & MMTET also participate in job fairs and career awareness events. If you’re available to help out with those, it’s greatly appreciated. If you’re a member of MMTA and are looking to hire, send your info to Lyons. Students from Bunker Hill Community College (CC), Cape Cod CC, Mass Maritime, UMass Lowell, Upper Cape Cod Regional School, Cape Cod Regional Tech, New Bedford High School and tech, and Salem High School were in attendance.

A panel discussion took place with two instructors and two students, moderated by panel discussion with two students and teachers from vocational schools at the business of boating (BOB) conference 2024Kenyon Ward, Yamaha Marine. Alex Riker, Cape Cod Regional Technical High School and Mike McConnell, New Bedford Greater Vocational Technical High School agreed not all their students are going to be mechanics. Some may turn out to be yard guys which is just as valuable. Or possibly in parts or sales. These students are learning technical training, fiberglass repairs, detailing, and bottom paint. The current curriculum available for the schools are from Yamaha Marine, Mercury Marine, the American Boating Yacht Council (ABYC), and the state of Massachusetts provides the chapter 74 required curriculum for the four full-time day programs at vocational schools.

For the last question, Ward asked the students where they saw themselves in 10 years. Here’s what they had to say.

Joshua Bittner, Student at Cape Cod Tech hopes to continue in a maritime school for college. After graduation he wants to work on a ship or tanker somewhere out in the ocean doing his part.

Jacob Reimels, Student at New Bedford Tech wants to be a yacht broker. He loved when he worked with brokers closely and saw how they got to relate to people. He’s a people person and like to take people out on boats and answer any sales questions.

The state has generously provided the MMTA with workforce funding in the amount of $150,000 over the past few years. This funding is utilized to support MMTA partner schools, member businesses, employees, job seekers and more. Thanks to Lyons, MMTA Board and general members who continue to advocate and promote the benefits of this funding.

Continue to Part 2 – Regulatory


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