Mobile welding program fast-tracks students to jobs

Mobile welding program fast-tracks students to jobs

Jennifer Franciotti
News Anchor, Reporter

WESTMINSTER, Md. — Getting people trained and on the job as fast as possible is the goal behind an accelerated welding program in Carroll County.

Sparking an interest in a new career, welding students are getting hands-on experience inside of a mobile classroom.

“I’m learning so much. It’s so much more than I thought it would be,” said welding student Michael Witmer.

The trailer is parked outside of the Business Employment Resource Center in Westminster. BERC brought it in from Earlbeck using American Rescue Plan dollars. Students are learning in nine weeks what would typically take 9 to 14 months. It’s free, and when it’s all said and done, they will be certified in a skill considered to be in demand.

“By the time they finish the advanced classes they can easily get a job in entry-level,” said welding instructor Tony Brown.

“A lot of people have left the workforce and a lot of talent has left. So, it’s left employers scrambling to fill vacancies,” said Heather Powell, manager of the Business Employment Resource Center.

“It’s a very usable skill. You find out that a lot of people get into welding trades are making more money than people coming out of college with bachelor’s degrees,” said Carroll County Commissioner Eric Bouchat.

“This particular trade would like to call it COVID-proof because my company never stopped working. We were always considered essential, so this particular avenue for them to pursue employment and a career — it’s perfect,” said Don Hodges, director of training and testing at Earlbeck.

The mobile classroom has been used across Maryland and surrounding states for training and certification. Students range from high school graduates to adults looking for new careers.

“I’m making a change. I’m starting a business where I build furniture and make river tables and I want to incorporate that into what I’m doing,” said welding student Jessica Hammerbacher.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to better myself and learn a skill. Not many people that I know have the skills. It’s a good opportunity to provide for yourself and your family,” said Jordan Nicholson.

If you’re interested in American Rescue Act Training in your area, reach out for more information. There are 13 work centers across the state.

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