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  • Writer's pictureTerry Bierwirth

It's One Hell of a Time to be a Welder

In May, I had the privilege of attending the Advanced Technology Fabrication and Welding Days at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. This is an annual open house of sorts, inviting the public into the program to interact with students and teachers. When I was at the event last year, I met a couple of gentlemen that I've never forgotten. They are ironworkers in the community of Eugene. Two great guys and I was thrilled to have a chance to meet up with them again. Jordan Adams of Paramount Ironworks and Nick Bezates of Bezates Construction Inc. Nick attended the LCC welding program in 2004 where he earned an associate's degree. Jordan is friend of Nick’s, but didn’t attend the LCC program. They were both on hand at LCC to engage with the public about their profession. Jordan and Nick are in their 30’s. They’re both concerned with the lack of trades workers following in their footsteps.

Jordan said now would be a tremendous time to enter the field. “I feel pretty strongly about the opportunities. We've got a lot of guys leaving the profession. A lot of guys that I work with are in their mid 50’s to 70’s. And when they leave, we're gonna have a huge shortage of workers.” He went onto say, “It’s gonna do a couple of things. It’s going to cause the price of labor to go through the roof. So anybody who's getting in now, a couple of years before these guys leave, is going to benefit.” Jordan says he thinks wages will go to $35 to $45 per hour for an open shop contractor. When I asked Nick why he thinks there’s a shortage of workers, he said “I think it stems from kids being told there are no good options as far as trade work goes. They've been pushed a lot of different directions other than working with their hands. This has created a shortage as far as people willing to do the work.” Jordan has owned his how business for 5 years. He has 25 employees in the field and 4 in the office. I asked what he looks for when hiring people. “Instead of hiring the most skilled, we look for drive and desire to learn.” He added, “We can teach skills, but we can’t teach work ethic.” Nick has owned his business for 8 years and has a staff of 3, including himself. I will continue to keep in touch with Jordan and Nick. I would be happy to connect either one of them with anyone who is interested in becoming a welder.

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