More and more people are finally beginning to understand what those who have worked as skilled labor have known for years: the number of new skilled laborers is declining. For years, high school students have been told to pursue college degrees in fields such as business and accounting and steered away from careers in skilled labor. In reality, many skilled laborers, such as welders, actually make more money per year than those who have four-year college degrees – and they don't have the huge student loans that often go with those degrees.
Southwest Louisiana is one location that is seeing the gap between retiring workers and new ones entering the field. As baby boomers retire, there simply are not enough new welders to take their place. With the economy still attempting to recover from the Great Recession, more and more young people are beginning to see the benefit of having skills in a trade, and schools in the southwest Louisiana region are also seeing those benefits.
Sowela Technical College teaches students not only welding but also teaches them the electrical trade. If they want to, students can have apprenticeships in electrical labor and plumbing while they are in school. This gives them a good opportunity to have more than one skill set to fall back on and for many, the chance for a good career they may never have gotten.
Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc (ABC) is located in Westlake, Louisiana and works with high schools to allow students to learn how to use heavy equipment, electrical pipe fitting, and welding before they even graduate. Once the students graduate, they are able to find work almost immediately if they want to.
There are several thriving industries in the region and the need is high for pipe fitters, boilermakers, and welders. The local trade schools have already trained more than 5,000 workers who have all been employed in the area. They have the skills needed to move up as high as they choose as well as the skills to be employed in the first place.
The area is still searching for more skilled laborers like welders to fill in the gaps. The industry is expected to continue to grow in the region, offering a lot of work and opportunity. Established welders can easily find work in the area and it's a great place for new welders to start their careers.