Bend High School welding students came back from winter break this week with an extra present waiting for them. The school received a $24,510 grant from the American Welding Society — a move that can help create a pipeline from high school to a career.
“Our reason for applying for the grant was so that we could upgrade our equipment, buy some new tools, and then with that new equipment we would be in a position to offer the AWS entry level certification for our students,” said Chuck Hill, one of the Bend High Welding Instructors.
“The entry level certification, if a student wants to pursue it, that is a nationally recognized certification that students can go to work and gives the employer some confidence that they have a guy or gal that has minimum skills and knowledge that they can make money for that employer right on the first day,” said Hill.
A freshman student told us she’d rather be welding than what she called regular studies.
“I’d say it’s a more hands-on thing during the day instead of just siting at a desk the whole day,” said Megan Rounds, who is considering a career in welding.
While most of the equipment works, Rounds explained the grant money would go a long way, including fixing holey gloves and scratched face shields.
Hill mentioned this statistic: When four welders leave the industry, only one new welder replaces them. In other words, there’s a welder shortage.
Rounds believes the AWS grant will help the shortage on a local level by encouraging the trade.
“It would definitely give more space and more room and especially would invite other people to come in, make it a bigger class and make more people interested in welding,” said Rounds.