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Summer cohorts wield welding skills

Two cohorts of students at Paul D. Camp Community College’s Division of Workforce Development Fast Track Welding recently completed the summer 2019 program. Out of 12 students, 10 earned the American Welding Society Certification on the first attempt, and according to Director of Workforce Development Angela Lawhorne, the other two are eligible to immediately retake the certification exam.

Opportunities that have been enhanced by the Virginia Community College System are allowing students like these to embark on new careers. The VCCS recently directed $2.75 million in FastForward Workforce Training Grants to its community colleges not only to expand existing programs but also to develop new ones.

“Camp received $200,000 in funding for the FY20 FastForward Improvement Grant to help more students earn credentials for new careers,” said Lawhorne. “The funds will enable us to purchase a Mobile Welding Lab that will be housed at the Hobbs Suffolk Campus, which will allow for more FastForward Welding classes in 2020. The Virginia Ship Repair Association will also participate in welding training through their Marine Trade Training program.”

Not every student is seeking a two-year associate degree when they enroll at Camp. The shortage of workers to fill jobs in the state has revealed the need of other strategies to prepare students who want to go directly into the workforce.

“The distribution of the Fast Forward funds will help Virginia build a skilled workforce for the region and allow companies to hire locals at wages that are suited to sustain their families,” said Camp President Dr. Dan Lufkin. “The training we provide is for relevant, high-demand jobs.”

To learn more about FastForward programs and the various scholarships and grants available to help offset tuition, visit www.pdc.edu/workforce-development or call 569-6050.