Endless opportunities in welding
More and more, the trades are being recognized as viable and highly desirable career options. For those who choose welding, there are many opportunities. In fact, there are projected to be 314,000 openings in the welding profession by 2024, due to recent industry growth and the fact that current professionals are retiring and advancing.
Exposing young people to welding early — while they are still in middle and high school — is key. But due to a lack of funding, many schools can’t afford to offer welding programs. Without this kind of exposure, students may never know if welding could be a successful and enjoyable career option for them.
This is why Miller partnered with the AWS (American Welding Society) Foundation to create the Light a Spark Grant, offering starter packages of equipment and supplies to high school ag-ed programs, career and technical education classes and practical skills courses. Chosen schools receive a turnkey Miller welding starter pack valued at more than $15,000.
Union Mine High School: Light a Spark grant recipient
Nicole Copp, an agriculture education specialist and program advisor at Union Mine High School in El Dorado, California, understands the need to support welding education better than anyone. Her school was one of the recipients of the 2020 Light a Spark Grant, which provided a welding starter pack to help her school grow their welding program. Their supplies included:
- Miller® Multimatic® 220 AC/DC welding power source, with FCAW and SMAW processes
- Miller® Spectrum® 375 X-TREME™ plasma cutter
- Oxy-fuel cutting pack, including regulators, cutting and heating tips
- SMAW, GMAW and GTAW whips with consumable kit
- Welding cart, ArcStation welding table and safety screens
- PPE and hand tools, including welding gloves, jacket, auto-darkening helmet, chipping hammer, wire brush and more
For Union Mine, this has been a total game-changer. Starting with just 30 students and a few simple pieces of welding equipment, the school built their welding program to more than 250 students with the help of the Light a Spark Grant.
“It was so fun opening those first boxes,” Copp said. “It was exhilarating to see how excited the students were and how much they love the welding unit. We’ve come a long way very quickly, and I really credit the Light a Spark Grant, as it steered us in the right direction.”