TVCC Hosts New Welding Classes for High School Students

On August 26, area high school students began an innovative two-year welding training program at Treasure Valley Community College. High school juniors from Ontario, Nyssa and Vale are part of an inaugural welding pilot program created through a collaborative between the College, the Malheur Education Services District, and local school districts.

The initial pilot includes 20 local high school juniors (10 from Ontario, 5 from Vale and 5 from Nyssa). Students will come to TVCC three afternoons a week for three hours of welding instruction and lab activities during their junior and senior years in high school. The two-year instruction will culminate in completion of a one-year welding certificate.

TVCC Welding

Classes in welding have been offered at local high schools, but these classes did not lead to a one-year certificate.

"Having a certificate gives students so many more opportunities once they graduate," said TVCC President Dana Young. "After they complete the certificate, students can go out and get a job, they can come to TVCC and continue on for more welding certification or they can apply the courses they have completed toward another degree."

There is no tuition cost for the students, who also earn dual credit for high school, making this a great option for students who want to earn the certificate or get a head start on another degree. Local school districts are paying for the students' instruction and equipment costs, while TVCC is providing classroom and lab space, use of welding equipment and oversight of the curriculum. The ESD is also funding additional equipment and material costs for students.

Local business leaders Riley Hill and Dirk DeBoer have been instrumental in leading the local efforts for a new CTE Training Center for high school students, including garnering support for this welding pilot. In addition to provide real-world training and skills to high school students, the success of the pilot could also build support for capital construction dollars for a comprehensive Career and Technical Education (CTE) Training Center to eventually include training in healthcare, business, automotive as well as welding and fabrication. TVCC is currently in line to receive more than $2.82 million in matching funds for a new Career & Technical Education Center from the State.

According to workforce and labor market projections provided by the Oregon Labor & Market Information System provided for Region 14 including Malheur County, by 2020, jobs in natural resources industries are expected to increase by 11%. For mining and construction, there is an expected 21% percent increase in local jobs.

By 2025, 40 percent of adult Oregonians will have earned a bachelor's degree or higher, 40 percent will have earned an associate's degree or post-secondary credential, and the remaining 20 percent or less will have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. By placing an emphasis on the "Middle 40%," this grassroots welding pilot effort is aimed at identifying and addressing some of the barriers that deter students from achieving success.

"With high school graduation rates averaging below 70% in our region, an emphasis on CTE training will not only allow us to achieve the goal of 40/40/20, but it will also provide a model for Oregon and a gateway to lead youth out of poverty and into prosperity," President Young said. "Additional career and technical training will be critical to insuring our ability to quickly meet to the area's workforce needs and help us drive the economic recovery of our region."

Thanks go to Eddie Alves, Marcus Nichols and Kevin Campbell for their good work in developing the pilot project, along with sincere appreciation to Steve Phillips, Malheur ESD Superintendent; and local school superintendents Nicki Albisu, Ontario; Matt Hawley, Vale; and Janine Weeks, Nyssa; for their dedication and commitment to expanding CTE programs for area students.