Welding training helps displaced workers


Student in South Texas College’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing Welding Academy preps metal so he can make a solid, smooth weld.

By: David Ramos, Project Training Specialist for STC’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing

With 2009 in full gear, South Texas College’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing has the college’s Technology Campus Welding Shop running at full capacity. Employees from across Hidalgo County are utilizing the institute’s Welding Academy to make themselves more marketable in today’s competitive job market.

Recently the local maquila manufacturing region has seen several companies closing down operations, laying off hundreds of workers. And now many displaced employees are seeking out education at South Texas College to help them get back on a new career path. Currently, welders are essential to manufacturing companies to produce products. Starting pay for these highly technical jobs started at $12.00 per hour. 

“Several manufacturing companies are reducing work hours or laying off employees and so the workers now have time to invest in themselves and gain more skills to help them stay employed or find another job,” said Claudio Guerra, project training specialist for STC’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing. “More than 70 percent of the students attending our Welding Academy are from the maquila manufacturing sector. We are proud to provide world-class training through our institute to help displaced workers go from an uncertain future to one full of new opportunity.” 

Enrollment for the Welding Academy has increased significantly during 2009, with more than 75 students taking classes beginning at 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. every Monday through Friday for six weeks. Through the academy, students are prepared to earn the American Welding Certification.

Since the academy began six years ago, the college’s Welding Shop facilities have doubled in size and seen the installation of sophisticated equipment. Additionally, two new courses, “Pipe Welding” and “Gas Tungsten”, have expanded the horizons of program graduates.

“I know that having welding skills greatly improves the chances of some workers keeping their jobs or finding good paying, solid work,” said Eloy Reyna, STC welding instructor. “Even if a student comes in with some welding experience, we recommend that they go ahead and start with the introduction class anyway because methodologies are always changing and improving. Our graduates go on to take tops welding jobs across the Valley. They are well-trained, good workers prepared to meet the demands of a fast-paced industry.”

For more information about South Texas College’s Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and its Welding Academy contact Claudio Guerra at 956-872-6168.