Rochester, NH –With a waiting list for students and ongoing workforce demand, Great Bay Community College, Rochester has constructed a new state-of-the-art welding lab to provide additional training opportunities and meet the hiring needs across New Hampshire. The new welding lab will house 14, six-foot-wide, self-contained welding cells with ventilation geared to individual health and safety and the latest in welding technology. The facility enables the program to safely triple the number of students in the program, which will prepare 42 new welders to join the workforce annually.
“Great Bay Community College has partnered with Exeter and Portsmouth school districts to offer welding in their high school labs,” said Paul Giuliano, head of the welding program at GBCC – Rochester. “This new welding lab will allow us to offer classes throughout the day and shrink the program’s waiting list so that we can train more welders to meet the demand across the state.”
According to Indeed.com, a welder taking an entry level job can earn base pay of about $20 an hour. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are 424,700 welding positions open nationally. Because of an aging workforce and many approaching retirement in this field and the nation’s aging infrastructure, that number is expected to increase by 1,450 positions each year.
“We’ve hired graduates from Great Bay’s welding program because we know that they’re career ready as soon as their training is complete,” said Hollie Noveletsky, president of Novel Iron Works in Greenland. “There is an incredible need for welders in the state and across the country. There’s this wide-open field that people can go into and instantly have a career that allows them to specialize their skills to a specific niche—like underwater welding, bridges, pipeline and construction,” Noveletsky said. “Welders are always in-demand and our jobs are essential.”
Great Bay Community College currently runs four programs at its Rochester campus – Non-Destructive Testing (NDT), Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machining, Advanced Composite Manufacturing and now the welding program. Because of the responsibilities that NDT teams have which include inspecting the work of the welders, offering this program at the Rochester campus adds an element of collaboration that is similar to what students will experience on the job.
“It’s a natural fit to have these programs housed together,” Giuliano said. “The NDT students will need to know how to inspect a weld, and the welding students will get real-world experience learning how to have their welds pass inspection. It truly is a seamless fit.”
In the GBCC, Rochester welding program, students will learn different kinds of welding such as cutting metal, brazing metal, torching and joining metal and problem solving to figure out the best materials to join together to maximize strength. After three semesters, students are ready for American Welding Society (AWS) Certification Testing and then employment.
The federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant was used to construct Great Bay Community College’s Rochester campus in 2013, which initially focused on advanced composites manufacturing before expanding its curriculum to other areas of high workforce demand.
Classes in the new welding lab start on Monday, August 31.