The Fab School: Training Tomorrow’s Welders Today
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 337,000 jobs for welders, cutters, solderers and brass workers in 2010. By 2020, that number is expected to increase by 15 percent. Every day, skilled trade workers are retiring, creating an unmet demand for a new skilled workforce.
With many skilled welders retiring at twice the pace of new welders coming into the field, it’s anticipated that in the years to come, we’ll have a significant shortfall of qualified welders.
The Fab School, located in the heart of Riverside, Calif., is a private, post-secondary, vocational school that offers hands-on training in a real-world, working fabrication shop environment. Students, many of whom are ex-military, can complete the necessary programs in as little as seven months and be ready for job-placement.
How it all started
Director and school founder Troy Johnson had been working at his off-road fabrication shop, Johnson Fabrication, which he opened in 1996. Prior to that, he traveled the world, working and racing for some of the best in the business, including Mancha Racing, Curt Leduc, Mike Leslie and Walker Evans Racing.
Despite the fact that the Inland Empire region is heavily influenced by an off-road racing and hobbyist culture, Johnson was struggling to find experienced fabricators to employ in his shop.
“We fell on hard times and couldn’t find anybody to come and work… there was no talent left,” says Johnson. “People kept coming in, saying they had no experience, but wanted to learn to do what we did.”
Johnson came up with an idea to put a small class together. He’d train those interested in the basic fabrication skills needed to get a job in the industry. From there, he’d cherry-pick the best guys to work for him building off-road vehicles. Little did he know, word would quickly spread and interest in the classes would explode.
The Fab School opened its doors in 2005. Since then, more than 700 students have graduated —completing all program coursework.
About the Fab School
Johnson, who has more than 27 years of industry experience, and his team of hand-picked industry professionals serve as the instructors and take pride in passing their skills, expertise and industry knowledge on to others.
Three available programs take students through the proper course work. An “Introduction to Fabrication” program is designed to take a student with little or no experience and expose them to a variety of skills used in metal fabrication and the theories behind those skills. The “Intermediate Fabrication” and “Fundamentals of Fabrication” programs further develop these skills and take the art of custom metal fabrication to the next level. Program schedules are fast-paced and the curriculum embraces a hands-on approach to learning with group work and individual attention.
The school relies on top-quality equipment and partners with industry leaders to outfit the facility and provide thought leadership and other unique field opportunities.
The Fab School uses Miller® welding products exclusively for their fabrication training. Currently the Fab School owns 22 Miller machines ranging from Millermatic® 211 Auto-Set™ with MVP™ MIG welders, Diversion™ 180 TIG welders, Syncrowave® 250 DX TIG welders, Dynasty® 200 DX TIG welders, Spectrum® 375 Plasma cutters and other products including F-Series ArcStation™ workbenches and Arc Armor® welding protection.
From A-arms and workbenches to other more artistic projects, students build and can take home their work. In addition, students can also take part in building project vehicles including a prerunner, which Johnson will take to the Baja 1000 off-road race in November 2013.
In addition, The Fab School provides its program participants with real-world experience and in-the-field opportunities.
Recently, some of the top performers helped to build a Miller Welders custom welding trailer for mobile repair use at the 2013 Griffin King of the Hammers. Students and staff accompanied Miller and the Blue Torch Fabworks team at the off-road event in Johnson Valley, Calif., and assisted race team participants with mobile repair. The real-world exposure and introductions to attending race teams also helped to position soon-to-be graduates for job-placement upon program completion.
“We’re proud to say that our placement rate is quite high and ranges between 96 to 100 percent,” says Johnson. “My real passion is to help others find a career that they are passionate about.”
Staff members coach students on the necessary non-technical elements of career , including help with resume preparation and interviewing skills. Long-term job placement assistance is provided to graduates who have successfully completed the program.
The Fab School is proud to be nationally accredited by the Council on Occupational Education and is approved by the California Bureau for Private Post-secondary Education, (BPPE). The Fab School offers a variety of payment options to fit each individual student’s needs. The Fab School accepts cash or check and has a no-interest, in-school payment plan. The Fab School is approved to accept the Montgomery GI Bill, Post 9-11, EDD, WIA, California Department of Rehabilitation, and a variety of other tuition assistance programs.
For more information, visit thefabschool.com and the Who Uses Blue section on the Racing, Customizing Restoring page at MillerWelds.com/RCR.