Local program could help relieve strain of national
figures released by the American Welding Society (AWS), the
country is now enduring a welder shortage that will
intensify for years to come. By 2010, it is estimated that
there will be a welder shortage around 200,000.
The Halifax Community College (HCC)
Welding Technology program is attempting to fill some of
those vacancies with skilled, certified welders. As HCC
Welding Department Head/Instructor Jason Shotwell recently
explained, power plants, infrastructure and construction
projects all need welders. Due to retirements and not having
enough younger people to fill those vacancies, welders are
in short supply. As a result, all types of projects, from
pipelines to skyscrapers to propane/natural gas line
projects will progress slowly and much of the infrastructure
that is needed may not be created.
Shotwell is also seeing a shortage on the
local level. Construction agencies are having difficulty
finding good, certified welders. Steel mills, paper mills
and production shops have an adequate number of welders for
the time being, but as he explained, once retirees start to
go out, those organizations may see a shortage.
Since the majority of the objects on Earth
are made of metal and most things break, said Shotwell,
welders are needed. “You just can’t put a bolt in it
sometimes and it will hold. You have to put a weld on it. If
you want certain codes and standards, you need welders,” he
Currently, there are day and evening
welding programs available at HCC. Also, there are several
students enrolled in the high school Huskins welding class,
which started last fall.
While in class, students learn how to
fabricate, cut steel, weld aluminum, carbon steel and
stainless, plasma cut and much more. Graduates are able to
go out and work as a cutter, welder, fabricator, blueprint
reader, and depending on skill level and prior work
experience, a foreman.
The welding program has an 80% job
placement rate and graduates can make anywhere from $10-18
per hour for production work; $18-28 per hour for
construction jobs. Those who work on emergency shutdowns can
make more plus $150 per diem each day while traveling.
“There is large demand for welders and you can make lots of
money,” Shotwell added.
suggested that using robots could be a possible solution for
the shortage. To that, Shotwell responded that robots can do
some things, but not all. “You won’t find a robot on the top
of a skyscraper,” he added.
Photo: HCC Welding Department Head/Instructor Jason Shotwell