County schools hope to add welding program
The county school board is working to initiate a welding class at the Franklin County Technical Center in anticipation of a need for welders in the area.
"We are in the planning stages of this right now," Assistant Superintendent Gary Williams said. "We'd like to get the class started for the next school year, but we have some obstacles to overcome."
Williams said officials are looking for a place to house the class, finding an instructor and funding the program while facing proration next year.
"We were told last week to prepare for proration in 2009 because of the economy, so we are unsure when this project will get off the ground," Williams said.
The board started looking at bringing the welding class back to Franklin County after the announcement that a Canadian railcar plant was moving to Colbert County and the anticipation of other industry into the area.
"The railcar plant will employ about 1,800 people, and about 900 of them will be welders," Williams said. "That's going to pull from the local workforce to create openings and we should have students ready for those openings if possible."
Williams said Franklin County had a welding course at one time but the program was cut several years ago due to a financial crunch.
"We want to give our students the best possible start," he said. "Welders can be certified within two years, and students can be ready to go to work at a good paying job right out of high school."
Northwest Shoals Community College has a welding program in place and Williams believes the local school system should do its part in providing skilled welders to the Franklin County workforce.