Local program helping fill need for welders

By Sara Belsole , Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, July 18, 2016

Hillsborough Community College is responding to the call to produce more graduates in both engineering technology and welding technology.

  • Tampa's HCC training a new generation of welders
  • About 50 students are enrolled in the program
  • 3 welding classes already graduated and are job eligible
  • HCC Welding Technology

A recent study from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute shows by 2025, there will be two million unfilled manufacturing jobs.

The American Welding Society (AWS) also predicts a shortage of more than 400,000 welding professionals by 2025, largely due to the number of older, skilled workers retiring. HCC is providing students with the core competencies needed to meet the needs of local, regional, state and national employers.

“Most welders are approximately my age or a little big younger and they are all retiring. And the young people have not gotten into the trades like they used to when I was a kid,” William Clark, HCC’s Applied Welding Technologies Academy’s Program Director, said. “And the young people have not gotten into the trades like they used to when I was a kid. It’s a very good way to make a living, it’s a short track to a professional career and it’s economical for a student who  may not want to go to college. They can come to trade school, learn a trade and go right out into the field without all that debt.”

Currently, about 50 students are enrolled in the program at a time. Students spend about 1,000 hours over an 11 month period learning the skills needed to become certified.

"It’s very empowering for me. I love it. It’s stepping out of your box and being in a man’s field, I love it,” student Erin Wise said. "They really set you up to learn how to do blueprints, all types of welding and it’s such a great program because it really sets you up for getting a job and doing really well in the field."

HCC also has long standing partnerships with local manufacturing companies such as Southern Manufacturing Technologies, Tampa Tank and Mite. The Hillsborough County Manufacturing Alliance also works with the school to ensure students are meeting the standard for the workforce.

“We need highly skilled machinists and programmers and manufacturing type engineers and we have a very difficult time finding them and we have to do a lot of training to overcome the gap,” Roy Sweatman, President of Southern Manufacturing, said.

This summer, all three of the HCC welding classes graduated with a 100 percent pass rate on their welding certification, making them immediately eligible for employment.