BRITT, Iowa - The employment outlook for welders is great, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the American Welding Society, the average age of a welder is 55, and a worker shortage will reach a deficit of around 400,000 workers by 2024. And with many kids leaving rural areas for more opportunities in urban areas, one school district is trying to change that, and getting more students involved in the skilled trades.
West Hancock High School, together with Hancock County Economic Development and Garner-based IMT, are working to get more kids involved in the trades, including welding. IMT recently donated equipment like gloves, shields, helmets and jackets for the welding shop, and that's just the beginning.
Junior Cole Kelly's family has experience in welding, and he's looking to jump into the trades after graduation.
"Our shop teacher always preaches about that. He's saying 'go to the trades' because when he was in high school, no one was told to do that because it's one of those things where plenty of people there. Now it's being preached to get into it because there's a lot of money to be made in it."
Principal Dan Peterson says the initiative says it's a win-win situation and wants to expand on the partnership.
"We can get our kids exposure to every business, every industry and every trade, if we can. And have the career experts, the people actually running the business and skill people, coming into our schools and saying, 'here's some real world problems that you can work on and solve here', and work directly with our kids."
Peterson says enrollment at the school's welding program has doubled this year, and they're looking to expand into offering more welding courses.