Future Welders Get Hands-on Training
Responding to a shortage of skilled welders, the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI) and the United Technical Center (UTC) are partnering to offer a new evening class for prospective welders.
The 16-week course is now in progress at UTC, located just north of Clarksburg along U.S. Route 19. Plans call for another class to start in June.
“We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with the United Technical Center to offer this badly needed evening program,” said RCBI Director and CEO Charlotte Weber. “There is a definite shortage of welders, not just in West Virginia but nationwide, and we are glad to work to prepare individuals for state certification.”
Weber called the training “a great opportunity for young people, displaced workers and anyone who wishes to expand his or her career opportunities.”
UTC Assistant Director Paula Altman said that she attends numerous meetings throughout the year where she hears businesses and industries cite a critical need for certified welders. Being able to offer the new evening program in addition to UTC’s daytime welding program “provides adults in our area the chance to learn the skills they need,” she said.
“The students have worked very hard. They are more advanced than I anticipated coming into the course,” said Eric Younkins, instructor for the class.
Lucinda Curry, RCBI’s coordinator of workforce development and technical trainer, called the endeavor a “no lose” situation. “Welding skills are much in demand within the oil and gas, construction and manufacturing industries in our region,” Curry said.
The class meets for four hours each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evening.
The course is a comprehensive one that includes both classroom instruction and hands-on training on the shop floor, with intensive student-instructor interaction.
“The best way to learn welding is to actually weld,” said Weber. “Our goal is to provide new welders with a firm foundation.”
Students in the class are working toward completing their Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) certification in May. Other upcoming evening welding courses include Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), Gas Tungsten Arc (GTAW), Stick Pipe and Blueprint Reading.
Financial assistance is available for students who qualify.