Students from Lamar State College-Orange were offered a sampling of life in a shipyard when they visited Orange Shipbuilding Thursday, as part of the orientation for the college’s fast-track welding program.
The first-of-its-kind tour was added to the program in order to better acquaint welding students with the expectations of the jobs and conditions they will encounter once they enter the “real world” of welding. “I always tell my welding students that they, more than likely, won’t be welding on nice tables at an ideal height and conditions,” said Dale Carter, full-time welding instructor for the program. “Getting them out to a production environment gives them a little taste of what they will really come across and gets their minds around what will be expected of them, in terms of working conditions.”
Matt Risinger led the tour for Orange Shipbuilding, a key partner in the welding program, which began in 2007 to train and provide entry-level welders for the maritime and construction industries. Other significant, contributing partners include Southeast Texas Industries, Signal International, Trinity Railcar, Burton Shipyard, Texas Workforce Center of Orange, Orange County Economic Development Corporation, and many other industrial partners. Partners provide services and in-kind donations to the program, as well as placement opportunities for the welding students to get paid, on-the-job internships.
 “Without these partners, this program simply would not be possible,” said Edward A. McKinney, the new director of the welding program. “They provide the resources, the materials, the additional training, and the overall support that gives the program the inertia to keep moving forward.”
The fast-track welding program is funded by a grant awarded under the Community Based Job Training Grants, as implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. To date, the program has held 12 classes and trained almost 150 entry-level welders. The course is offered in two formats. In the four-week, day-time format, students attend 80 hours of training Monday-Friday for two weeks, followed by two weeks of paid internship at a local partner. The 11-week night-time format allows students to attend three nights per week for nine weeks, followed by two weeks of paid internship at a local partner.
To register for the program, contact the LSC-O Office of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at (409) 882-3321.