Newberg High, PCC reactivating welding program to serve industry demand
Portland Community College and Newberg High School have joined forces to reactivate a welding program that will serve the community and give students a running start in a healthy job market.
When winter term begins Jan. 9, the college’s Rock Creek Campus will offer welding classes at the high school from 6-9 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The program hopes to attract current high school students, former students and community members. For participants who seek either a certificate or a two-year degree, or who want to learn welding for their own purposes, enrollment in PCC is required.
According to Scott Judy, PCC’s Welding Technology Program chair, the classes to be offered at Newberg will closely mirror those now taught at the Rock Creek and Swan Island locations. The idea is to make it easy for students who transfer into the associate of applied science degree to move from one campus to the other.
“We introduced welding at Newberg High School several years ago,” he said. “We couldn’t build capacity for the program in 2012, but we have a much improved chance now with critical elements in place.”
Those elements include a new high school principal, Kyle Laier, who has a strong background in career tech education, and high school welding instructor, Bailey Field, who currently has 121 welding students on board plus a healthy backlog of students on the wait list to take her classes. It’s also likely there are some future welders among the 300 to 400 students currently enrolled in PCC’s Newberg Center, which is a five minute drive to the high school.
Another element that has yet to be fully measured is the Newberg manufacturing community.
“We believe the employment outlook in Newberg for welders is very positive,” Judy said. “Newberg has a strong metals trade, and our students would attract employers from throughout Yamhill County.”
One local employer is more than attracted to the high school program. Each spring since 2011, Newberg Steel and Fabrication has donated a $1,000 scholarship to a Newberg High School graduating senior from Yamhill County who has completed at least one welding class and who has enrolled at PCC. That annual award will be increased to $1,500 starting in 2017.
Jessica Kinion, general manager of Newberg Steel and Fabrication and the daughter of company founders Jeff and Jackie Lane, was herself a scholarship recipient when she attended Oregon State University.“I learned about investing in industry and community when I was enrolled in the Austin Family Business Program at OSU,” Kinion said. “We always meet the winners of our scholarship, and we have hired at least three high school students as part-time employees as soon as they were 18 years old. We have one scholarship recipient who joined us full time after he graduated from PCC.”
Upon learning that Newberg High School and PCC have joined forces to create more welding opportunities, Kinion shared her delight.
“We have retail customers who want to learn welding both as a trade and for their home welding projects,” Kinion said. “Individuals may have different reasons for wanting to learn welding, but Laier has a clear objective in mind for the welding initiative.
“Today our welding students earn high school credit toward graduation,” she added. “Ultimately, we want our partnership with PCC to mean dual enrollment which will allow our kids to earn college credit while attending Newberg High School. We want them to leave our school as certified welders, ready to work in the welding industry. We believe this program will boost our graduation rate and engage our community.”
And while graduation rates are a measure of student success, Field said that welding also offers an option for those capable students who simply don’t fit the more traditional academic profile.
“Math as a stand-alone might not appeal to some students, but math that is required for welding serves a purpose,” Field said. “Welding classes give students access to something different, something that will sustain them.”
For more information about any of PCC’s welding offerings, call (971) 722-7600.