Wednesday, September 9, 2015

In Wake of Welder Shortage, Prisons Provide Training

In -wake-of-Welder-Shortage-Prisons-Provide-Training

Why the shortage?

America is in need of more welders. Baby boomers with skills will be retiring, and there aren’t enough young people to replace them.

In the ‘80s, America had more than half a million welders. Those days, welding was as hot as welding arcs. These days, there are around 40% fewer welders.

The shortage of welding related jobs will be 300,000 or so by 2020, as estimated by the American Welding Society.

So what’s the answer?

According to Jeremy Worley, a welding teacher at a technical college in the North Georgia, there is a growing demand for welder. So he will teach welding to anyone at any age, from anywhere. Those from Walker State Prison isn’t an exception. As part of Georgia’s on-going prison reform, prisoners would be permitted to access heavy tools, blowtorches to get hold of a welding certificate.

"If it's an opportunity for me to dive into welding and they say I have a job here, I'm going to say, 'That's me””, said Christopher Peeples , 26, at the end of his mandatory 10-year prison sentence for his armed robbery when being 17.

John Turner, a former student of the prison welding program, describes himself as a really good welder. He was released last month, and had 3 job offers.

Gardner Carrick is in the Manufacturing Institute, the Washington, D.C. based training arm of the National Association of Manufacturers. He supports such prison programs as the one in Georgia. He said, "We certainly would love to see prisoners successfully reintegrate into the community and into the economy. So if welding is a vehicle by which that can happen, then I think that's great to hear.”

But that is not enough to fulfill the need. Carrick said, U.S education policy is associated with lack of skilled labor. “"We made the decision that all kids should go to college and as a result you saw the elimination of a lot of the technical programs at the high school level.” Carrick’s group is working hard for more skills training and programs that attract more teenagers to manufacturing careers. And many enterprises have kicked off their own apprenticeship programs.


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