Recently the partners of the West Central Ohio Workforce Development Initiative (WCOWDI) celebrated reaching a milestone.  After 12 sessions, the welding program has now exceeded 100 candidates who have benefitted from improving their skillset.

The celebration was held at the Tri Star Dennings Building in St. Marys.  When asked about their experience in the welding course, all of the candidates stated the program exceeded their expectations.

“By partnering with Tri Star, we are able to provide another avenue for high school students, adults and incumbent workers to obtain an in-demand skill”, said  Angela Hamberg, the WCOWDI coordinator. “For this session, we offered several of the seats to high school seniors”, added Hamberg. 

The 2-year Tri Star Career Compact career tech welding program (for high school students) typically fills up leaving some on a waiting list.  Mitchell Brubaker, a Tri Star Career Based student and WDI candidate commented “I was on the waiting list for the Tri Star welding program”.  He was thrilled to be able to given a second opportunity to learn to weld during his high school career. “I did not know one thing about welding, but this (WCOWDI) program has encouraged me to further my education.”  Brubaker said that he has been accepted to Ohio Technical College in Cleveland and is looking forward to how his newly obtained skill can help him in the future.

As part of the celebration, local companies were invited to participate in an interview process with the candidates.  Companies like Crown Equipment Corporation, Kinninger Production Welding and Nidec-Minster saw benefit in connecting with these newly trained individuals.  “I was impressed.”, said Renea Woeste of Crown Equipment Corporation.  “The students are motivated and have a good work ethic.” 

A few of the students are currently enrolled in the Tri Star Ag Mechanics program.  Many local companies seek students who have hands-on mechanical ability.  Adding the welding training certification increases their marketability for their future.  Jacob Hamblin, a Tri Star Ag Mechanics student and WDI candidate, commented, “I like to tinker with things.  Welding and mechanics go hand-in-hand”.  Hamblin is considering continuing his education at Hobart Institute.  He likes the hands-on approach and learning from experts in the field.  The hands-on approach is what he liked the most about the WDI welding program.

“Students (like this) are a perfect fit for our assembly or remanufacturing area” stated Nidec-Minster HR Manager, Brian Styer.  “I made some good connections”, added Styer.

“Our first training program began in January of 2012 with the intention of helping local companies fill positions that were going unfilled, due to lack of skills. The silver lining has been when we hear about the difference the short-term training has made in a candidate's life and career opportunities. It is very rewarding and worthy of celebrating.”, stated Hamberg.