Director of education, The Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News
Growing up in Alabama, Latitia McCane was inspired by the work of her father, a mechanic at Ciba Geigy Chemical Corp. (now BASF), and her uncle, an electrician at Ingalls. So, she forged her own career path in STEM and manufacturing fields. A throughline in her work, however, has been to support and encourage women and people of color.
“Because I have a background in equity and diversity, it’s just a passion of mine to be able to give more women access in the manufacturing sector,” she says.
As director of education for The Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding, McCane has led the way as the institution expanded beyond offering apprenticeship programs and became a degree-granting school. Founded in 1919, The Apprentice School provides apprenticeships in 19 shipbuilding disciplines and eight advanced programs of study.
“We were very well-known, but we were not considered a school of higher education in the state of Virginia,” she says. “Now we will be recognized as a post-secondary institution that can award degrees.” In 2023, The Apprentice School will provide associate degrees of applied science in 26 maritime technology disciplines.
In her role serving on the Virginia Apprenticeship Council — to which she was appointed by former Gov. Ralph Northam in 2019 — McCane has provided guidance on the recruitment and retention of women and people of color for apprenticeships.
“We find that inclusion comes when employers of apprentices are intentional about hiring women and people of color,” says Patricia Morrison, director of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry’s Division of Registered Apprenticeship. “Latitia truly walks that talk.”