Callaway County needs welders, hopes new training program will help

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FULTON - The Callaway County workforce will soon see more skilled workers thanks to a newly approved state grant. The grant money will help establish a welding apprenticeship program in Fulton.

The Missouri Division of Workforce Development is providing $341,204 for the Central Missouri Welding Apprenticeship Project. 

The project is a team effort of the Central Workforce Development Board, Inc. and the Callaway Chamber of Commerce. The two groups spent the last year working together to identify workforce problems in Callaway County. A lack of trained welders was at the top of the list. 

The CWBD and the chamber hope to train 70 participants during the 15-month grant period. The groups are partnering with Linn State Technical College for the training. The state grant will fund four virtual welders for the project, costing $58,000 each.

Participants will be paired with potential employers, where they will complete their certification. The goal is for participants to receive a job after completion.

Henderson Truck Equipment was one of the businesses that supported the welding apprenticeship program. Installation Manager Kelly Brace said the apprenticeship program could help students who are entering the workforce. 

"These young individuals that have gone through this apprenticeship program, it’s gonna give them a leg up when they come to apply for a job such as this in our industry," Brace said. 

Brace said students who do not want to go to college are missing in the technical industry as a whole. 

"From welding to many other ones such as heating and cooling or pipe fitting, that’s sort of getting to be a lost art and so we need to replenish those skill sets in the work force," Brace said.

Tamara Tateosian, Executive Director of the Callaway Chamber of Commerce, said this grant is supporting its vision of "building communities for business and family." 

"We are trying to educate our high school graduates on the potential jobs there are in Callaway County. And if they are not college bound, then we want to have some sort of alternatives for them," Tateosian said.

This week, the CWMB and the chamber will decide where the training will take place in Fulton.