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Drake State Instructors say welding industry hurting for workers; hope competition sparks more interest

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – More than 30 students competed in the 6th Annual Regional Welding Competition at J.F. Drake State Technical College on Thursday, trying to prove their skills.

“My students right now are getting a job before they graduate,” said Ryan Green, Department Head and Welding Instructor at Drake State.

These students are learning a trade and competing for the title of Best Welder in the competition. According to the Department of Labor, Welding offers high-paying career opportunities. But the demand for workers exceeds the supply. “There’s a generation that’s retiring right now, and there’s not enough of this younger generation taking the trade. Statistics show that by this time next year we’re going to be short by 4,000 welders,” said Green.

They’re hoping this competition will spark some more interest. “Right now we can’t get enough skilled workers,” said Randall Kelly. Kelly has been a welder for 40 years. He says for now, the industry is making do. “They’re working more hours, doubling them up,” said Kelly.

But if the workers aren’t here, Kelly says there’s a chance that work could be moved elsewhere.

“The industry is coming to us right now saying we need welders right now,” said Green.

If you’d like to learn more about the welding program at Drake State Community College, click here.

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