Thanks to a Minnesota DEED grant and a partnership between Pine Technical and Community College, the city of North Branch and the North Branch School District, eight North Branch women are now ready to join the welding industry.
Last spring, PTCC was awarded $329,000 to provide welding training to women throughout East Central Minnesota as part of the $35 million Equity Grants approved by the Minnesota Legislature.
The first and second cohort of eight groups met in Pine City. But the need for qualified welders and the intent of the grant extends throughout the region.
Dwayne Green, executive director of PTCC’s Employment and Training Center, sought an opportunity to bring the Women in Welding program to North Branch.
Working with Mayor Kirsten Kennedy and Brett Carlson from the North Branch School District, the college was able to provide the welding courses at the North Branch High School.
"There is a demand for certified welders in the region, with wages from $16 to $18 an hour," said ETC Executive Director Dwayne Green. "Regionally, women hold only 6.5% of those jobs. We see this project as a means to fill that gap and provide women in our community with high-wage jobs."
“This is your time to shine,” Kennedy told the graduates. “You have a college education, and no one can take that away from you.” She told the children gathered in the audience, “Know that your mom is really courageous and brave. You should be very proud of her.”
The project provides 120 hours of training in basic welding and industry certification to qualified participants within the region. Additionally, daycare was provided for the students who needed it. Participants of the program also receive additional student support services throughout their training program and assistance with job placement when they complete.
The next course will return to Pine City, at the high school. PTCC purchased a mobile welding trailer in order to bring this course to students throughout the region. After a break over the holidays, courses will begin in January 2018 in the newly purchased and outfitted trailer.
To learn more about Women in Welding program, please contact Kris Hanson at firstname.lastname@example.org.