Thursday, September 3, 2015

New State-of-the-art Welding Training Center Opens to Address Skills Gap

A new welding training center opened on August 21st to address skills gap between the industry and higher education.

Lance Bolton, president of Pikes Peak Community College (left) and Tom Neppl, president and chief executive of Springs Fabrication (right) coordinated in opening a new welding training center to fill skills gap.
Called as ‘the first of its kind’ by Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC) and Springs Fabrication leaders, the new state-of-the-art welding training center for high school and college opened on August 21st to fill the skills gap. Shiny new equipment accommodates 15 training welding booths in one of the metal manufacturing buildings of Springs Fabrication on Colorado Springs’ East side. A large classroom down the hall has been completed.

PPCC invested around $130,000 to open this center, and Springs Fabrication used $40,000 for materials, construction costs and upgrades. Also, PPCC supplies classroom furniture, faculty and instructional technology equipment, and handle a monthly rent.

Last Thursday was the grand opening of the new education venture between Pikes Peak Community College and Springs Fabrication, a local business. As said by president of PPCC, Lance Bolton, “This is really unprecedented to have this level of partnership with private industry. It’s on the leading edge”. Both have been eyeing for united efforts for over a year. 

Neppl, president and chief executive of Springs Fabrication, said that lots of graduates from college with degrees that didn’t apply to today’s job, and welding had been at the end of that spectrum. As 55 is the average age of a welder, so many in the laborforce are retiring, and it has been difficult for business owners to seek out qualified welders. He said, “Before the oil and gas bust, it was extremely hard, next to impossible to find skilled workers and hang on to them. Manufacturing skills in general are needed everywhere in the business.”

Meanwhile, as revealed by instructor Lee Corn, the student demand is high. Then developing this center will reply to both students and industry’s demands. Neppl said, this program is geared toward training the entire workforce and for industry and community, not just for funneling graduates to work for his company.

Students study shielded metal arc, gas tungsten arc welding, gas metal arc and other aspects of metal fabrication, and can get hold of associate's degrees or certificates from PPCC.

Springs Fabrication is also using this center for training and testing its workers on advanced welding techniques. The new equipment give immediate feedback on work. 


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