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Where have all the welders gone?

In the manufacturing industry, skilled welders hold great significance. Therefore, recent news articles citing a general decline of skilled welders even with prevailing high unemployment rates, presents an interesting conundrum. Finding qualified welders is difficult enough, but finding experienced welders is even more so. This is not just a problem in the United States; a lot of developing countries seem to be facing similar problems when it comes to a shortage of a skilled labor force. There are still hundreds of sectors like construction, original equipment manufacturing, and agricultural equipment manufacturing that have a need to fill thousands of welding jobs. When we dig a little deeper, we can see various reasons why these sectors remain unemployed even in the current economic scenario.

A recent article in the Official Journal of the Gases and Welding Distributors Association clearly outlines the problem and solution. It seems like most welders retiring in large droves within the next decade or so are currently in their 50’s. The baby boomer generation that is now retiring consisted of skilled, well-paid welders. Their children have moved onto more white-collar jobs in the hopes of creating more lucrative careers because of the perceived notion that welding jobs didn’t pay enough. Also, there was a time when colleges didn’t offer too many vocational courses and students had to invest another two years to learn a new skill.

However, current market conditions call for skilled welders and in these times, welding may very well earn lucrative salaries, open up new opportunities, and create job security. There are several upcoming industries that will rely heavily on skilled welders and will train and pay them well to fill this need. With wind and solar energy plants creating thousands of jobs, Infrastructure receiving government stimulus, and other positive signs in the economy, there will be jobs galore in this sector. In the age of information and technology, there are unlimited opportunities for skilled welders to become robotic welding technicians, welding inspectors, welding supervisors, or start their own business (e.g. plumbing). So how do we go about bridging the gap between available welding jobs and filling them with skilled welders? A good first step would be to pump more skilled and certified welders into the workforce.

From creating fast-track programs and courses, developing “women in welding” programs, and providing scholarships, the AWS (American Welding Society) and colleges across the country are working together to ensure that the demand for skilled welders and fabricators is being met. Welding school graduates are now finding themselves getting easily absorbed into the industry and have higher rates of employment and job security than a lot of other fields.

At Bluff Manufacturing, we are fortunate to have some of the best, certified welders in our employ. The quality of our dock boards and plates, yard ramps, and mezzanine products is a testimony to the quality of their work. Not only are our welders talented, they are also creative problem solvers dedicated to producing excellent quality on time. Our welders mostly weld aluminum and carbon steel and they are skilled at taking custom drawings and building according to customer requirements and even working off of engineered drawings. Under the current circumstances, Bluff Manufacturing is very appreciative of its welders who are true craftsmen for whom no task is too tough.

See what Jay Leno has to say about welders and welding – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PASEG5xLlRo