With the recent opening of an Accredited Training Facility (ATF) at Local Union 135 in Galveston, Tex., the International Association of Iron Workers now boasts 101 state-of-the-art welder training facilities.
The 101 new or recently-upgraded welder training facilities allow local unions to quickly and efficiently train and certify greater numbers of welders than at any time in the Association's 118 year-old history. The custom facilities effectively render the International the market-leader in turning out highly-skilled certified workers capable of meeting the growing global demand for welders, said Ed Abbott, general organizer of the Iron Workers.
"The advantage of having these ATFs is that it demonstrates why we are the industry leader," said Abbott. "They provide geographic convenience to more of our members, and they allow us to qualify any apprentice or journeymen who are ready to work."
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, welding is an occupation expected to see a consistent growth pattern in the next decade.
"Employment growth reflects the need for welders in manufacturing because of the importance and versatility of welding as a manufacturing process. The basic skills of welding are similar across industries, so welders can easily shift from one industry to another, depending on where they are needed most. For example, welders laid off in the automotive manufacturing industry may be able to find work in the oil and gas industry. The nation’s aging infrastructure will require the expertise of welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers to help rebuild bridges, highways, and buildings. The construction of new power generation facilities and, specifically, pipelines transporting natural gas and oil will also result in new jobs," according to the U.S. Department of Labor's description of the welding occupations.
Abbott said he is optimistic about continued expansion of ATFs within the International's local unions. In 2002, there were fewer than 30 ATFs throughout the International.