KIRTLAND, Ohio – In an effort to address one sector of the skilled worker shortage crisis, Lakeland Community College and Lincoln Electric have welded resources to fill the need that the state of Ohio faces as the nation’s third largest manufacturing state.
The Ohio Board of Regents recently approved Lakeland’s request to offer an Associate of Technical Studies degree in Industrial Welding. The program’s development was driven by the growing concern over impending baby boomer retirements expected in the coming years that will result in a shortage of qualified workers.
Training the next generation of welders has not been easy. Although Lincoln has offered its own welding courses for some time, a commonly voiced concern by participants in their program was the inability to transfer their welding training to a degree-granting institution.
The Lakeland-Lincoln partnership addresses the college credit transferability issue and students can now earn an associate degree. This credential gives students the foundation to pursue a bachelor’s degree if they choose to do so.
“Lincoln has over 100 years of welding expertise. Add Lakeland’s expertise in education, put the two together and we can accomplish so much more,” said Carl Peters, director of training at Lincoln Electric. “Besides our customers, we also need a lot of welders here at Lincoln.”
Although Lakeland worked closely with Lincoln to design the degree’s curriculum, students can take the education and knowledge that they learn in the program to any company in the country who may have welding jobs available.
"The program is open to any student from Northeast Ohio who is interested in an industrial welding career - whether they work at Lincoln or not," said Gary Eith, Ph.D., dean of business and engineering technologies at Lakeland.
Individuals who already have a welding certificate can receive advanced placement and credit for prior learning towards the associate degree at Lakeland. All students enrolled in the program will be prepared to take the required certification tests that the industry requires.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, welding jobs are expected to grow 15 percent through 2020. The defense industry and the nation’s aging infrastructure are expected to drive growth in the field.
The industrial welding program is the product of various collaborations that Lakeland has fostered with Lincoln Electric, the Alliance for Working Together (AWT), and other Northeast Ohio manufacturers and employers.
“The manufacturing industry has faced declining interest throughout the years but the reality is that there will always be a need for welders,” said Eith. “As long as we drive on roads and live and work in buildings, we will need an educated and expert workforce to weld our bridges, buildings, and cars.”
For more information, call 440-525-7085.