Future Of Welding Employment Concerns Officials, But Welding Grows As a Hobby

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of welders and those in related fields is expected to reach 412,300 by 2024. However, despite these statistics, there is a worry about the impending shortage of skilled workers.

As members of the skilled workforce retire, there is an increase in attempts to get younger people interested in fields like welding and machine operation.

Mary Ruth Johnson, a veteran of the American Welding Society, has noted the growing demand, saying, “The shortage of skilled welders in some parts of the country around Louisiana and Texas has reached a point where shipyards have put up billboards in Alabama looking for welders. Instructors in our local chapters have told us there is such a demand for welders the companies are giving hiring bonuses.”

One of the biggest issues in the field is the learning curve that comes with learning the skill of welding, says Johnson. Welding isn’t a career that can be faked or that can be done with little to no experience. Training is needed, and a lot of it.

The demand has created numerous programs that are attempting to get people interested in the field. These programs include education at local universities and technical schools and shop classes at local art galleries.
These shop classes teach students to weld by introducing them to artistic pursuits with metal.

The owner of the shop is a part-time sculptor and teacher Matt Jones, who opened the shop eight years ago. The students are artists, tinkerers, and anyone that is interested in working with their hands.

“The classes started for anyone wanting to restore their car, make furniture, or create sculptures,” says Jones.

The business is called Molten Metal Works, and after an intro MIG class, the new welders can take to the shop-floor for little more than $15 an hour. There they can cut, bend, and weld their own projects.

However, despite the artistic nature of the work, it does not contribute to the welding industry’s employment problem. It doesn’t deal with creating products or building infrastructure.

“Molten Metal Works was designed as a community for everyone. It’s not hard to weld and we’re not building bridges,” says Jones.