Education forms the foundation of the welding industry, and never has the need for education been more critical than in the face of the ever-growing, oft-debated skills gap. Now, the people of Pewaukee, Wisconsin who are considering welding as a potential career path have access to free afternoon and evening welding classes from Aug. 26 to Dec. 22. A U.S. Department of Labor grant is paying for the classes offered through the Workforce Development Center of Waukesha County Technical College.
The center decided to start offering free welding courses after the success of a similar program at the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) in late May. MATC’s success, coupled with the shortage of highly skilled workers available to local companies, inspired Waukesha College to form a free welding program of their own.
The federally subsidized courses help establish new welders in industry critical areas. However, the classes are only the first step. It’s important to remember that the skills gap isn’t just a lack of available workers; it’s a lack of workers with specific skills. Therefore, it’s critical to take advantage of learning opportunities, such as free welding classes, even after you’ve mastered basics skills. By advancing your welding career you are not only improving your own job prospects and paycheck, you’re also helping the industry fill the detrimental gap in skilled labor. That’s why AWS not only encourages potential welders to take advantage of programs like the one being offered in Wisconsin, but to also use these courses as a cost effective means of pursuing your welding career through specialization.
Anyone interested in Waukesha College’s classes must be at least 18 and have a high school diploma, or equivalent, by the start of training. Prospective students must also have at least an eighth-grade math and reading level, be able to pass a drug screening, and have, or be eligible for, a valid driver’s license. Although these courses are contingent on grant money, the school intends to offer them as long as there is demand.
There are openings for 18 students, and potential applicants should call Marissa Keller, WOW Workforce Program Services Assistant, at (262) 695-8044 for more information. Students seeking similar opportunities should contact their local AWS Section.
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