Fast Track Welding Program Puts Welders to Work

At this year’s FABTECH event in Chicago five panelists discussed Solutions for a Qualified Workforce Pipeline. While the panelists stressed the importance of reaching out to community colleges as a source for potential employees, it quickly became clear that employers are not in a position to wait for students to earn a two-year degree.

A viable solution is already in the works. To increase the local pool of qualified welders ready to work, College of the Sequoias (COS) is pilot testing fast track welding skills training that includes internships with businesses. In this intensive welding program, participants take 18 units in one semester instead of spreading it over multiple semesters so they can start working more quickly.

According to Mike Mahler, Service Manager, U.S. Farm Systems, the internships that are part of the fast track program are an excellent opportunity for both the students and the business community. “By partnering with College of the Sequoias, we can offer internships to students who have proven entry-level skills,” said Mahler. “They gain practical experience applying those skills during the internship. Businesses benefit from building a bigger pool of qualified workers who can be recruited, now or in the future.”

U.S. Farm Systems had five interns working during the summer and has hired three of them. “I encourage other manufacturers to get involved with this successful program,” said Mahler. “Even if you aren’t hiring right now, the experience that you provide to interns contributes to our community by providing a path to well-paid employment for young people. In the long run, businesses will have better qualified recruits with hands-on field experience.” U.S.Farm Systems started the interns on simple jobs to assess their capabilities. Then, they were moved to more demanding assignments based on their performance.

“Setting up the internships was easy – Randy Emery at COS developed participants’ basic proficiencies in class and responded to our input about additional skills that should be added to the course,” said Mahler. Randy Emery, COS Welding Trainer, explained that the four-month, fast track pilot program was 100% supported by a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant. “The goal of this U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration grant was to help veterans, and unemployed or underemployed participants get entry-level welding training that would lead to employment,” said Emery.

Trainees who qualified were certified in the American Welding Society’s School Excelling through National Skills Standard Education (SENSE) program and the Manufacturing Skill Standard Council’s Certificate in Production Technician Training.

“This program is exactly what needs to done to rebuild our economy,” said Emery. “It gives young people the skills they need to start a well-paid career.” Emery encourages other employers interested in offering internships to contact him at 559-285-1803 or

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by the FABTECH Show Daily and the College of the Sequoias Fall 2013 Newsletter.

2 thoughts on “Fast Track Welding Program Puts Welders to Work”

  1. At the College of the Sequoias we have found that students are preferring to complete a program and upgrade their skills in a shorter timeframe than is normally done in a regular Career Technical Education semester to semester format.

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