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Mobile labs can help fill job vacancies


Northwood Technical College mitigates welder shortages vide mobile training camps.

Mobile labs can help fill job vacancies
In a statement the American Welding Society said, there is likely to be a shortage of 400,000 skilled welders in the United States by 2024.

The shortfall is already having an impact on Northern Wisconsin business and industry, as learned Northwood Technical College following a consultation with businesses in and around the region.

The university, located in St. Wisconsin, was told that many Native American groups such as Croix Chippewa Indians, who are willing to learn welding but are unable to do so because they didn’t have the means to travel to the college.

Issues such as this can be resolved if Northwood Tech introduced a welding program on the road, such as it has done in the past years.

The Northwood Technical College currently offers engineering degrees in eight fully equipped welding booths and a 53-foot trailer that can accommodate 8-10 students at any given time. These booths can be relocated paving the way for students to pursue temporary, short-term education without even setting foot on the college campus.

College education not allows provides an education which provides many new skills and experiences, it also provides career opportunities in many popular fields, explained Karen Hoglund, dean of academic programming at Northwood Tech.

"We try to meet the needs of students where they need them," said Hoglund. "I'll train anywhere anyone wants."

The university provides $900,000 in two large grants to support the program and equip the mobile lab.

Enbridge, a longtime Northwood Tech partner, awarded the university a $40,000 Fueling Futures grant to purchase a commercial generator to power the facility.

“We look for opportunities to help the community around our work and helping students to develop their potential is one of our focus areas. It's only right that we start funding the powers behind this innovative program - the device that powers our students' futures.

When these units become operational in January 2023, they can be set up in a rural high school or close to a business.

"It can take days, weeks or even a month, depending on your needs," explained Höglund.

While the welding lab is still being equipped and set up, Hoglund is working on the next mobile program Northwood Tech can offer.

She went on to add, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) course is very much in demand.

"We need to bring welding machines into the industry more efficiently," said Hoglund. "The Mobile Welding Lab allows us to do just that."