Garrett High School in DeKalb County is partnering with Northeast Indiana Works on a new welding apprenticeship program, preparing students for jobs right out of high school. The partners say there is a big need for qualified welders to fill a growing void at manufacturing plants in northeast Indiana. Projections show an annual average of more than 300 open welding positions over the next decade in the region.
The apprenticeship, which has been approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, is an extension of an existing State Earn and Learn (SEAL) career development welding program at Garrett.
“This DOL youth welding apprenticeship program with Garrett High School serves as a model for all Indiana regional Workforce Development Boards on how to best collaborate, engage employers, and build high-quality work-based learning opportunities for students that will launch careers,” said Matt Presley, regional director of the state’s Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship.
Not only is there demand, but there appears to be plenty of interest. The school says 40 juniors and seniors are expected to take part in the program this fall and another three dozen sophomores have expressed interest.
Eight employers have signed up to provide on-the-job learning for the Garrett apprentices, who see it as an opportunity to build a skilled workforce.
“I view this as a great opportunity for getting kids to be longtime employees. We win and the students win,” said Metal Technologies Inc. Plant Manager Doug Weaver.
The competency-based apprenticeship will include at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning and a minimum of 634 hours of related instruction provided by Ivy Tech Community College at Garrett High School.
The school says apprentices who successfully complete the program will have demonstrated proficiency in 42 competencies, earned a number of industry-recognized certificates, and acquired 21 Ivy Tech college credits.