By Blair Weilnau, Forney Industries
Trade schools and community colleges are becoming a more popular option for students, allowing them to learn a skill or trade related to a specific job in a shorter amount of time. According to the Colorado Community College System, enrollment in community colleges increased 28 percent since 2007.
Steve Anderson, president and CEO of Forney Industries in Fort Collins, believes passionately in the need for the technical training that trade schools and community colleges offer. That’s why he got involved with the welding technology program at the Fort Collins campus of Front Range Community College.
Front Range offers a two-year associate’s degree in welding technology in which students learn entry-level skills and train in a certified testing facility with expert welding instructors. A welding degree is one of the top degree programs within Colorado’s community colleges, increasing 30.9 percent from 2011 to 2013. That increase includes more women students, according to Jason Walsh, certified welding inspector and instructor at FRCC where 15 percent of the welding students are women.
When the program started growing, FRCC reached out to Anderson inquiring about Forney products. Anderson quickly assessed the programs and offered support. Anderson liked what he saw and knew Forney could help. The company not only donated welding machines, but also created starter kits that included a welding helmet, gloves, chipping hammer, MIG pliers, safety glasses and other necessities. This ensured students had the proper equipment to begin welding and learn with the correct tools.
Welders can expect to earn as much as $75 an hour depending on the type of welding, experience and location. Most welding programs struggle to retain students in their two-year welding program because the opportunity for high-paying jobs is available before certification completion.
Anderson stresses that it’s critical for companies like Forney to invest in the future of the industry, and encourages other companies to do the same by supporting trade programs and community colleges.