Building off of workforce partnerships and 100 percent job placement rate for graduates
BERLIN — After a decade of successfully training and placing students in welding positions at more than 30 Granite State organizations, the White Mountains Community College’s advanced welding programs will be expanding this year through a new associate in trades management degree offering in the fall of 2017. The new program will provide graduates with more training for leadership skills introduced in WMCC’s welding, advanced welding and industrial maintenance certificates.
The advanced welding programs offer an educational experience that is heavy on hands-on learning. As much as 90 percent of the instruction takes place in a lab. It also provides career preparation training to assist students with resumes, mock interviews, and networking opportunities with local companies to refine soft skills.
To date, 100 percent of its job-seeking students complete the program with a job waiting for them. Some companies hiring WMCC grads include the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Westinghouse Electric and Cianbro among others.
“Attitude and the desire to learn are major tenets of our program, so we focus on hands-on learning and the skills that will help the student excel in his or her career,” said Michael J. Pike, a Welding Technology instructor and the program’s coordinator at White Mountains Community College. “Because of the flexibility and stackability of our certificates and Associate degree structure, we see people of all ages and experience attracted to this program and the pathways to employment that it creates.”
That includes recent graduate Walter Luikey from Glen, who at 80 years young, completed a welding certificate and returned to work with the Eastern Millwright Regional Council’s New England Local Union #1121, one of WMCC’s welding program’s hallmark partners. Millwrights are precision craftsmen who install, upgrade, maintain, diagnose, and repair complex and intricate machinery for many industries. Continuously employed throughout his career, he took his updated skill set and past experience running his own business, to update his skills and further advance his career.
The base for WMCC’s program is the Advanced Welding Certificate, a full time, two semester program. Graduates learn the core applications of the welding trade, as well necessary safety, blueprint reading and other skills needed for employment in today’s welding industry. The certificate provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve certification in multiple processes by including test preparation as part of the course.
WMCC’s Pike helped launch the school’s Welding Technology degree and certificate programs 10 years ago, borne out of the State of New Hampshire’s desire to help workers who had been laid off and bolster the workforce for skilled manufacturing.
“The contractors I work for continuously recognize the value of tradesman with a welding background,” said Albert Marquis from Colebrook, who completed training at WMCC in August of 2015. “My experience in the WMCC Welding Program enabled me to secure more work as a millwright welder.”
But not all the work falls on students and instructors. WMCC’s welding program industry partners are active participants, frequently speaking to classes about what they look for in employees. This makes it easier to make connections within the industry while introducing students to job opportunities – Pike says students have had up to 11 different job offers waiting for them upon completion of the program.