Tuesday, February 12, 2013--5:45p.m.
MADISON--"It's a great career, it's one that can support a family with good pay and benefits," said Madison College Welding Instructor Roy Swanke.
For students in Madison College's welding program, the career prospects are good: "For the students that graduate from the program and seek a welding job, there's no problems for them finding work in our area," said Swanke.
But there are more students who want to train in the field than they've got room for: "There's definitely demand," he said. "We have a waitlist for students."
When the governor releases his budget next week, it'll include an additional $5 million for the state's technical college system. It also gives the schools some flexibility with $22 million in existing funds; those can be used to promote expansion in areas of high-demand.
"It's hard to tell exactly what that money can and can't be used for," said Terrance Webb, Madison College's provost.
More details will come out with the budget next week, but it's possible that fields like welding could be included. "A lot of the so-called skills gap that exists, that is the gap between available workers and skilled workers to fill open positions, a lot of that resides in the manufacturing sector," said Webb. "So I'm assuming that the funds will be targeted towards that."
Webb said the school's already moved money to the welding program over the last three years, but said anything that assists them in providing more instruction in the field would be helpful.
"It's a good job," said Swanke. "You get done at the end of the day, you feel that you've actually made something and, you know, sparks fly and it's a good career."