PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- Building the workforce of tomorrow, today. Tidewater Community College is training in conjunction with the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

There is the shipyard, which constantly needs fresh manpower to keep the Navy ship-shape, and there is the college, whose own mission statement is, "contributing to the economic, civic, and cultural vitality of the region."

The Navy always needs sea-worthy ships, and the skilled people to maintain them. That's where the special partnership between Norfolk Naval Shipyard and Tidewater Community College comes in.

Since 1996 they have cranked out between 7,000-8,000 apprentices.

26-year-old Monica Gaines will soon be one of them.

"It's kind of like a second chance for me," she said. "I felt kind of stuck in the career I was in."

She's taking David Steinhauer's class in the Computer Aided Drafting and Design lab at TCC's Portsmouth campus.

"Most of the professors are from the shipyard, so they're able to take what they're teaching us and applying it to what we will be doing every day once we leave, so it's very, very helpful," said Gaines.

Apprentices take classes during regular working hours on weekdays at TCC's Portsmouth Campus in two nine-week sessions, and upon completion, receive a Career Studies Certificate: Trades Technician. They then earn a wage at the shipyard ranging from $14.03 to $15.46 per hour.

Gaines can't wait.

"Well I'm a metals inspector, so I will be inspecting like all the welds and looking for indications in the pipes and welds and things like that," she said.

It is a match made in Heaven, according to TCC leaders.

"This is a true partnership, this is a partnership where we work hand in hand to design a curriculum that is tailored to meet the needs of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard," said Provost Dr. Michelle Woodhouse.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens, have graduated with a high school diploma or GED equivalent, meet minimum requirements on the TCC placements tests, be able to obtain and maintain a security clearance and pass medical requirements.

Applications for the 2019 apprentice class will be accepted beginning in November 2018.