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Schools out to forge welding partnership
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The Effingham County Board of Education is asking the state Department of Education to approve a facility for use as a welding classroom.

The school system recently purchased the former Savannah Yacht Company building in Effingham Industrial Park and hopes to add a welding classroom in one of its corners.

“We are very excited about it,” said Dr. Barbara Prosser, CEO of the Effingham College and Career Academy. “We’re hoping to work with local businesses to assure that students can move into jobs either as work-based learning jobs or apprenticeship jobs. And of course, there are jobs not just here in Effingham County but right next door in the Port Wentworth area with the Ports Authority as well and the businesses that support that.”

The welding class, which is anticipated to be offered in the fall, will be a joint effort between the Effingham College and Career Academy and Savannah Technical College. STC will provide an instructor and Effingham’s high school students will be able to dual enroll in the program. The courses will be available for anyone interested in welding certification.

“Not only students but members of the community, if they want to enhance their skills, then, they’d be able to take a welding class in the county,” Superintendent Randy Shearouse said.

Welding equipment was donated from Temcor, which purchased the training equipment a few years ago.

The yacht building also is being used as storage for the system’s maintenance staff, but Shearouse said the STC welding instructor walked the facility and will assist with proper wiring for the training classroom. Shearouse said the building’s proximity to ECCA and its location in the industrial park make it ideal for student and workforce training.

The program came out of discussions with local businesses and industries about their needs and talks with STC about a facility for a welding program in Effingham.

“We’ve been hearing from local industry here and in Chatham that there is a need for welders,” Shearouse said. “So we’ve been in talks with Savannah Tech, and they also see that need and they’re interested in helping us with a dual enrollment type program with welding so that our students can take advantage of that.”

“Employers in our area have stated that there is a demand for (welders) and that they are trying to recruit people from Michigan, from Germany and Korea who are welders who are available,” Prosser said.

“There’s a high demand for them. Welders are commanding a pretty fair price, about $45-$60 an hour, plus if they have to come from somewhere else, you’re paying lodging expenses as well, so it can be very expensive.”

Prosser expects the class will be offered to juniors and seniors in career pathways that require welding and who can fit it in their schedules.

But the system also is looking into becoming a certification and training facility for area businesses and industries.

“There are so many different types of welding, I’m learning,” Prosser said, “and many of the companies have their proprietary techniques that they use. So in addition to having welders’ certifications, they we would also be certified by that company with respect to their proprietary techniques.”

Shearouse said that students could potentially get certified as welders through the welding dual enrollment program, much like ECCA nursing students can be certified nursing assistants.

“We actually talked to someone last week who mentioned there were certain certifications that students could hold as a welder,” he said. “And if those students can attain those certifications, much like a certified nursing assistant, that it could be very worthwhile, very meaningful as far as those students being able to attain a job. So we’re interested in that as well.”