Duke Energy grant assists 50 VU trade program students

Local News

VINCENNES, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Thanks to a Duke Energy grant giving $1,000 to 50 students in Indiana’s Next Level Jobs program, 50 Vincennes University trade program students won’t have to worry about a portion of their funding for the spring semester.

David Pierce and Shawn McLaughlin are both students in VU’s welding technologies program. They said the guarantee of having a job in a field they like is what made them choose this route vs. a traditional four-year program.

McLaughlin began welding while in high school and realized it was something he was good at. Two factors influenced his decision to enroll in VU’s welding technology program: time and money.

“Until then, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and I started welding and I was, like, well, this is it,” McLaughlin said. “I’m good at it. I enjoy doing it and I don’t have to sit at a desk all day. I’m also pretty much coming out with no debt since it’s not a four-year program. It’s just two years and I had scholarships, so I was almost completely covered.”

Pierce, on the other hand, didn’t discover his love for the trade until he arrived on campus. He enjoys the program’s flexibility.

“There’s such a wide spread of jobs in the welding industry and for us, you get to come and figure out what your strengths are and the different processes of welding,” he explained. “You can then start leaning towards the processes that support that skill set of welding.”

VU received $50,000 from Duke Energy to support 50 students in Indiana’s Next Level Jobs program, promoting more people to fill skilled trade jobs.

“The Indiana Department of Workforce Development categorizes jobs by flame ratings and the highest flame rating that DWD give is a “5,” meaning it’s a high-demand, high-wage job,” said David Tucker, VU’s vice president of Workforce Development and Community Services. “All of the trades occupations fall into that high-wage, high-demand category.

Tucker believes trade jobs like welding will continue to be in high demand for years to come.

“They are the jobs that keep the economy moving, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “It’s people with an interest in doing a very direct, hands-on occupation. Those are the jobs that make goods, the jobs that move goods and those are the jobs that provide the essential services that keep us healthy.”

Pierce and McLaughlin will finish their programs in May and have already begun their job search, starting with interviews next week to be nuclear welders.

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