SEATTLE – A local college and a shipyard have come together to provide opportunities for students in an industry with a great need. Many in the maritime welding industry are near retirement or need additional training, so South Seattle College and Vigor Shipyard are working together to get new people in the business.
The school’s classroom is at the Harbor Island Training Center on the Vigor Property, which gives students real-world, on-the-job training during their course. Vigor built the 8,000-square foot training center and outfitted it with weld booths, a computer lab, a tool room, and machining equipment. Both Vigor and the college recognized the need for proper training and good help.
“There’s a huge need in the maritime welding industry. Actually, all industries need welders. I know Vigor we’re probably going to be hiring 50-80 more welders in the next 3-6 months,” Vigor’s Chad Niemeyer said. “In the last 15-20 years, it’s been ‘Why be a welder? I can be a computer programmer; I can go do a machine job,’ so the knowledge is disappearing, like absolutely disappearing, and that’s why we’re so desperate to get folks in here.”
Since the it began, nearly all of the graduates from the six-month program landed jobs at the completion of the course. That’s entirely understandable for the instructor.
“The age in the welding industry for Maritime is at the average of 54 years of age,” Instructor Ken Johnson said. “Our six-month intensive program we are contributing a lot to the shipbuilding community getting them new people to come into the workforce.”
Johnson said he considered his course the training hub for the Puget Sound Maritime Welding industry. The students who are a part of it are grateful for the training at the job site so they can figure out if it’s a career they want to pursue.
“I actually prefer this a lot more than just being in a classroom,” student Tiffany Thomas said. “I don’t think that I probably would have lasted if I was just in a regular classroom environment just learning to weld.”
“It is great doing it here as opposed to doing it elsewhere where you don’t know what to expect in the job market, whereas here I know what to expect in the job market,” student Peter Gitau said.
If you would like more information on South Seattle College’s maritime welding program you can find ithere