The sluggish economy hasn’t diminished the need for workers in the skilled trades, nor has it slowed enrollment in welding education programs, particularly at community colleges. These programs continue to expand and attract students, training and providing real-world experience to a new generation of skilled workers – exactly the skills that are in demand in the industrial and manufacturing sectors.

Enrollment at Wallace State Community College’s welding education program has doubled since 2007. Administrators at the Hanceville, Ala. school planned to enlarge the program’s facilities to accommodate the increase number of students, and to expand its training programs to improve students’ preparation for welding manufacturing careers.

“There are a couple of different areas in the state where industry is booming, big time, and companies cannot find enough qualified personnel,” explained Jim Thompson, department head for Wallace State’s welding program.

“Good skilled welders can get jobs anywhere,” he continued. “Training at a state-of-the-art facility further attracts students and helps build their real-world skill sets. Our goal is to have our students come out of school and enter the workforce ready to perform.”

The Wallace State welding department routinely turns out highly skilled graduates who move on to well-paying careers in the welding industry. Its students follow an intensive curriculum and receive certification from the American Welding Society (AWS) and the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) after they meet all necessary requirements.

Additionally, many bring home awards from both state skills competitions and wider reaching contests, such as SkillsUSA. In fact, Wallace State boasts three consecutive state winners in 2009, 2010, and 2011, as well as the 2009 national winner in the welding skills category.