By STEVE SCAUZILLO | email@example.com | San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Chaffey College will use a $2.9 million state allocation to build a welding training facility at its technical learning center in Fontana, the college announced last week.
The money, secured by Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez, D-Pomona, will be put toward construction of a full-fledged classroom and laboratory for its hands-on welding instruction program that trains and prepares students for jobs in the industry. Construction will start in 2022, said Melissa Pinion, Chaffey College spokesperson.
The money was awarded to the Chaffey College Foundation, which will receive the funds in a month or two. It will be a Chaffey Community College District project and will go through a bidding process, Pinion said.
“The new facility will be able to provide a permanent home for the welding class. Now it is an outdoor set up and tear down structure and doesn’t lend itself for use during inclement weather,” said Debbie Smith, administrator for the Chaffey College Industrial Technical Learning Center or InTech, located on the grounds of California Steel Industries, 9400 Cherry Ave.
Currently, the center serves about 50 welding students a year. Once the new facility is built, the college can double the number of students, Smith said. It will also increase the number of welding stations from 12 to 16, she added. Many students are currently on waiting lists to enter the program, she said.
Welding jobs are expected to grow by 10% through 2022 in the region, with more than 20,000 job openings created between 2017 and 2022, according to Centers of Excellence. The college reported that despite demand, there is a shortage of certified workers.
“Experienced welders have the potential to earn $40 per hour, but training costs often serve as a deterrent because they can be expensive,” said Chaffey College Superintendent/President Henry Shannon in a prepared statement.
“We want to tear down this educational barrier for our residents and give them an opportunity to improve their lives, while also providing skilled workers for our employers. We are tremendously grateful to Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez for supporting Chaffey College students,” Shannon added.
Upon completion of the program, each student receives a certification from the American Welding Society, which is often needed for employment, Smith said.
Since its inception, the InTech center has served over 4,928 individuals, about 150 employers, and maintains approximately an 80% placement rate (excluding incumbent worker training), according to information released by Rodriguez.
Students who complete the program can work in construction, manufacturing of machinery and the home repair industry, Smith said. One student is working on the LAX people mover project, she said.
“We teach students that they may need to be able to weld pretty much anywhere, on your back or standing up on a high rise or over a bridge overpass,” Smith said.