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High demand for skilled welders & joiners
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The demand for skilled welders and joiners is growing rapidly in Georgia, especially in Barrow and the surrounding counties, and the profession is lucrative for those artisans with the in-demand skills., an online portal developed by the Governor's Office of Workforce Development that promotes the need for skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen in Georgia, shows the median wage for a construction welder at $22.45 per hour. Georgia’s Department of Labor gives the current average monthly salary of a “specialty trades contractor” at $3,768.

Lanier Technical College is helping to meet the business and community need for skilled welders and joiners. The College’s Welding and Joining Technology Program teaches a wide variety of welding and joining skills at the Oakwood, Dawson, and Winder-Barrow Campuses. Industry experienced instructors teach the highly needed welding and joining skills and work ethics to students in hands-on, state of the art facilities. Students can enroll in diploma or technical certificate programs in Welding and Joining Technology at each of the three campuses.

Caterpillar, Inc., the well-known major manufacturer of “big yellow” heavy construction equipment, located a manufacturing facility in the Athens area in 2012, and the demand for skilled welders has continuously increased. Mike White, Caterpillar Human Resource Manager stated, "Partnerships with the Technical College System of Georgia are critical to our recruitment and training successes. We currently have 60 welding positions open, and more positions will be available in the future. We believe Lanier Technical College's Welding and Joining Technology Program will be key to finding great talent for Caterpillar. It is important students realize the opportunities presented to them after completing a welding program."

Instructor, Tom Rieger, helps Mark Knight with his technique.

Tom Rieger, a highly experienced industry professional and instructor, has rejoined the staff of Lanier Technical College’s Winder-Barrow Campus as Welding and Joining Technology Instructor. Rieger explained that while the most lucrative jobs for welders are in the aircraft industry, many diverse industries in Barrow and the neighboring counties need welders immediately. The same need for skilled welders and joiners in Barrow County and the surround area is found throughout Georgia and the US.

Ryland Pendley, Canyon Wallace, Zachary Coats, and Dustin Everett, watch
Rieger demonstrate proper technique.

Lanier Technical College, in partnership with the Barrow County School System, is building a new joint education campus. BCSS high school students and LTC students will learn in a state-of-the art environment, and Rieger will get to put the final touches on the new Winder-Barrow Campus welding lab at the joint education campus. “It’s exciting to be able to pick out what you need and set it up the way you want to best teach the safety and skills required to meet the demands for welders. There are so many methods of welding now that it’s important for the students to get a feel for them (various welding methods) before they go into the workplace", noted Rieger.

The new Barrow Campus welding lab will incorporate a plasma table with a Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) cutting system. Plasma cutting is a process that is used to cut steel and other metals of different thicknesses (or sometimes other materials) using a plasma torch. In this process, an inert gas (in some units, compressed air) is blown at high speed out of a nozzle; at the same time an electrical arc is formed through that gas from the nozzle to the surface being cut, turning some of that gas to plasma. The plasma is sufficiently hot to melt the metal being cut and moves sufficiently fast to blow molten metal away from the cut.
CNC allows the cutting to be precision controlled by a computer commands.

The new welding lab will also train students in robotic welding in a new robotic station, called a cell. Rieger notes that many manufacturing companies are using robotics in production, and the demand for welders to maintain the robots is growing.

Lanier Technical College is accepting applications for enrollment in the Spring semester beginning in January of 2014. The College has a 98.6% job placement rate and offers over 40 programs of study in some of the nation's fastest-growing career fields including healthcare, energy, business and industry, and public or private service. More information about Lanier Technical College may be obtained by calling the Oakwood Campus at 770-533-7000, the Dawson Campus at 706-216-546
1, the Barrow Campus at 770-297-4527, or by visiting Lanier Technical College is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia.

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