For the high schoolers competing in welding at Ivy Tech Community College’s Annual Ag Expo, the professional job search won’t start for a while.
But when they do begin applying, there will certainly be a place for them in the industry.
“There’s plenty of demand right now, for welding, and it’s something that is not going to go away,” said Darrin Dayhoff, Assistant Professor of Welding Technology at Ivy Tech Community College.
The American Welding Society predicts that there will be a shortage of more than 200,000 welding jobs in the country in the next two years.
Kelly Metal Products President Larry Kelly is lucky. He’s managed to hang onto the skilled welders at his Terre Haute shop, knowing that any opening would be difficult to fill.
“There are eager people out there that want to work, but they don’t have the skills,” said Kelly.
These skills, such as basic mathematics and understanding of welding equipment, come from both education and hands-on experience.
Sixteen-year-old Clay Barker has about three years of that experience under his belt from helping out at his family’s body shop. He values the hands-on aspect of the job, even if the conditions aren’t always ideal.
“It’s not an easy job, it’s a hot and tiring job, but I really like the outcomes of it,” said Barker, a sophomore at Rockville Jr. Sr. High School.
Kelly says that kids like Clay, who gain skills while growing up in industrial settings, usually have the upper hand in this industry.
“Kids that grow up in the city and such, really don’t have an opportunity to get their hands dirty and try out things that they’re interested in,” said Kelly.
That’s what makes places like Terre Haute and surrounding areas the perfect place to look when starting a welding career.