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Demand grows for well-trained welders
Photos and Story by James Hill
Welding instructor Matt Scott would pull his hair out if he had the time. But he doesn’t.
Scott is too busy trying to serve the ever-growing student population wanting skills in the welding trade and helping local companies fill their burgeoning demand for skilled welders. Only problem is that the welding program’s facility at the Rock Creek Campus can only serve so many students – a bottleneck of Olympic proportions.
“What we have is a very busy time out there with the need for welders and thanks to our job placement office at PCC, we are able to post jobs as they come up,” said Scott, welding instructor. “We have a lot of opportunities for our students once they graduate. So the key is, they come to PCC welding and gain the skills they need to go be successful out in the industry. ”
The welding shop at the Rock Creek Campus is tight for space, as the program tries to wedge a series of booths inside their area to serve the different types of welding they teach. For instance, the stick welding booth, which helps students learn shielded metal arc welding and is one of the building blocks for any welder, has just 15 booths. Even though the program is open entry, open exit format, often times students must wait in line to use the facilities.
More than 340 students are served per year at Rock Creek, with a waiting list of 80 to 90 students at any given time.
“Although stick welding is a fairly old process, it is the base of all of our welding processes. So once a student learns to stick weld they can transition into the other processes very easily,” Scott said. “So with 15 booths we may end one term with 20 students wanting to stick welding training. So we really need to grow.”
The college and some of its welding partners have tried to alleviate the pressure. Vigor Industrial and PCC have joined forces to open the Swan Island Training Center, 5555 N. Channel Ave. The facility provides welding training opportunities that support the local manufacturing industry. The partners unveiled the new training center this summer.
“For a long time we have been wanting to bring our skill trades, and welding in particular, over to the east side.” said Nan Poppe, president of the Extended Learning Campus and PCC’s lead on forging the relationship. “And it hasn’t been easy and it has been a long road. But we’re so excited because this is a piece where college and industry have come together to really fill the talent pipeline that we’re going to need to keep our economy vital.”