Decatur City Schools expanding welding program to keep up with demand
The Decatur City Schools system is planning to spend $1 million to expand its welding program, according to a report by the Decatur Daily.
The expansion is driven by both increased interest from students and increased demand for welders in the area and will reportedly be housed inside the old Austin High School building in the southwest portion of Decatur that also contains the Career Academies of Decatur.
Decatur Superintendent Michael Douglas told the Daily he thinks the expansion will have the capacity for up to 120 students.
Currently, there are only 20 welding spots available across the system each year. They are trained at the privately-owned Global Tech Institute.
Angie Cushing, a career coach in the Decatur City system, told the Daily that 60 students had been turned away in the last year due to lack of space in the welding program.
The Alabama Department of Labor has welding listed as an in-demand profession over the next decade with a projected 1,300 openings each year.
Additionally, North Alabama – led by the city of Huntsville – is going through an economic boom. Many of the jobs at the soon-to-open Mazda-Toyota Manufacturing plant will involve welding, as will several advanced manufacturing shops in the area.
“I get calls every week from companies looking for welders,” Calvin Washington told the Daily. Washington owns the Global Tech Institute where the current students in Decatur’s welding program are trained.
“Students in this program will be industry-trained and ready for a job when they leave,” he added.