Celebrate National Welding Month
Jeannine Kunz, Vice President, Tooling U-SME on
April 24, 2019
April is National Welding Month, so we thought we’d take a look at the status of the welding workforce in America.
But first, we’d like to say Happy Birthday to our friends at the American Welding Society (AWS).
This year marks their 100th year advancing the science and art of welding. Congratulations on a decade of making a difference.
There have been a lot of changes in that century, and that is leading to a multitude of career opportunities.
It is estimated that there will be openings for 450,000 skilled welding professionals by 2020, according to AWS.
There are two main reasons for this, which aren’t unique to welders: a retiring workforce and lack of qualified workers to fill open positions.
The need is great. The nation’s aging infrastructure will require the expertise of welders and others to help rebuild bridges, highways, and buildings. And, of course, welding is used in manufacturing for everything from cars to shipbuilding.
As with many roles in the manufacturing industry, welders today face a very different environment than generations before. Automation has turned welding into a high-tech skill. Advancements in materials, processes and equipment are transforming these jobs.
Take robotic welding. Instead of laying down a weld manually, robots are programed to perform the task. Today, a welder needs to understand advanced welding equipment and technology. Critical thinking and problem solving are essential parts of the job.
All manufacturers need to provide welding professionals with the knowledge and skills required to operate advanced tools and technologies. Manufacturers see that offering training and development in this area greatly enhances recruiting and retention.
Back in 2015, we introduced a series of online welding classes to give welding professionals a competitive edge as well as to ensure companies have the workforce needed to help them succeed.
We continue to partner with Lincoln Electric — a leader in the design, development and manufacturer of welding products — on class programming to ensure students are learning from a curriculum based on the latest industry criteria and the AWS SENSE standards.
“With so many advancements in the manufacturing industry, it’s important that training lives in the digital space where students and instructors have immediate access to updated lessons and materials,” said Jason Scales, manager of Educational Services at Lincoln Electric.
There continues to be a rise in training for welders. To date, hundreds of thousands of welding classes have been delivered to students through Tooling U-SME, and we know the need will continue.
What’s next? Mind-controlled robotic welding, perhaps? The next generation of welders is here, and manufacturers need to be ready.
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