Advanced Welder Education
Monroe County is part of "Automation Alley," a nickname that recognizes the area's automotive intensive industries. The demand for skilled trades personnel in these industries has increased, with 5000 new postings for South East Michigan region alone. Total employment for these industries is about 113,000 workers (Workforce Intelligence Networks, 2017). Half of these workers are welders, fabricators, and tool and die makers. This Monroe County Community College welding technology project is designed to increase the number of qualified welders who can lead research, development, and innovation in the advanced manufacturing field. The project will develop new curriculum materials and implement them in courses conforming to Advanced Level Welder QC 11 training standards. These standards were revised in August 2017 and further defined by the Schools Excelling Through National Skills Standards Education Program led by the American Welding Society. By incorporating the latest additions to the Advanced Level QC 11 standards, the college aims to produce highly skilled welders who can support research and development. This training will also enable students to pursue associate of applied science and/or baccalaureate degree. The project will include existing articulation pathways between the college and area universities, and will develop new articulation/transfer pathways to other four-year schools. The project will also add to the pool of qualified Inspectors in Non-Destructive Testing, a field in which the college offers the state's only certificate program. By completing these activities, this project has the potential to help students advance educationally and occupationally, thus making a significant impact on the economy of the Southeast Michigan region.
This project builds on a $1.75 million Department of Labor grant that aimed to improve the welder pool in the region. The college met the goals of that grant by producing the promised number of graduates. As part of that grant, the college developed partnerships with nine high school districts, enabling the college to reach more than 1500 potential students. In this project, the college will leverage those partnerships by providing professional development to high school career and technical education program instructors. As a result, it is expected that Level 1 Entry Level QC 10 standards will be completed at the high schools and the college will focus on teaching the new and revised Advanced Level QC 11 standards. Direct articulation agreements will be developed to support this educational pathway. The program aims to: (a) provide students increased opportunities to earn entry to advanced American Welding Society credentials, which can improve their employability; and (b) strengthen the relationship between the college and local employers by educating a well-educated workforce to meet employer needs at varying levels of welder expertise and experience.