Special to the News Messenger
Texas State Technical College’s Welding Technology students are finding a need for their skills regionally and throughout the country.
The demand for brazers, cutters, solderers and welders is projected to increase up to 439,100 workers by 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency attributes this to replacing the country’s aging infrastructure, as well as the construction of new natural gas and oil pipelines and power generation facilities.
Many of TSTC’s Welding Technology graduates like to work near their hometowns, said Philip Miller, a TSTC Welding Technology instructor.
“As for being work-ready, we train them to work like they are already out in the workforce, showing up on time, being ready to start the day, having a good attitude. And we also inform them on the right and wrong for workplace conduct,” he said.
Smith Tank & Equipment Co. in Tyler hired one of TSTC’s summer Welding Technology graduates. James Blair III, the company’s president, said he likes TSTC’s students because they understand the hands-on skills and theory of welding.
“Getting good candidates for employment has been an ongoing challenge in some years more than others,” said Blair. “When the oil field is good, it is harder to get them. Everyone is busy.”
Blair said female welders can make a valuable contribution to the industry.
“Women tend to be very good workers,” he said. “Women tend to focus a little more than the guys.”
Warfab Inc. in Hallsville and Longview hired a graduate of TSTC’s Welding Technology program earlier this year. The company specializes in forging-press work, heavy equipment, manufacturing and specialty welding services.
David Ocheltree, Warfab’s human resources manager, said the company looks for welders who have a combination of fabrication shop and field experience. He said while fabrication work is high quality, field work involves getting dirty and lifting heavy equipment.
“We take all forms of experience coming in here,” Ocheltree said. “We have some that come in with absolutely no experience whatsoever, to the person who has 20-plus years of welding. The person that comes in and wants to work at Warfab comes in as a cleaner or has a few tools, and we bring them in as a helper. They can work under an apprenticeshiptype aspect.”
TSTC’s Marshall campus offers a Structural Welding certificate.
For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.