It’s no secret that there are huge workforce skill shortages in the construction industry. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the US Gulf Coast states, where petrochemical companies are investing billions of dollars in new construction. Before these massive chemical manufacturing plans and refineries can be put in place, the local workforce will need thousands of new craft professionals in fields like welding and pipefitting. As the New York Times reports, many of these skilled training programs are being delivered through community colleges. Ground zero for the welding boom is Houston, Texas, where San Jacinto College has partnered with ABC of Greater Houston to train a new generation of craft professionals.
According to a senior executive with Fluor, one of America’s largest construction firms, the huge demand for highly skilled welders and pipefitters is helping to make these careers a destination for students, rather than a fall back option. “For a long time, parents didn’t want their son or daughter to become a pipe fitter or welder, but now, the demand for noncollege graduates with vocational skills is huge,” said Fluor’s Jim Hanna.
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