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Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) is joining with Stinger Welding to use a tractor trailer equipped with welding stations to train workers for the company’s new plant in Libby, Mont.
The welding program will be instrumental in providing displaced workers with good-paying jobs, said Tara Roth, FVCC’s associate director for marketing and communications. Libby, an asbestos superfund site, is in Lincoln County, which has an unemployment rate over 20 percent, the highest in the state.
Several displaced workers enrolled in retraining programs at FVCC’s main campus in Kalispell helped transform the inside of the tractor trailer into a mobile classroom with 10 welding stations.
Classes started June 14 with two sections of 10 students each. A welding training program that traditionally has taken two semesters has been accelerated into a 20-week program, said Roth.
Students who complete the course will be eligible for certification from the American Welding Society and will be qualified for employment at Stinger Welding. The company plans to hire as many as 150 welders by fall 2012. Bill Roope, FVCC’s director of career and technical education, designed the layout of the learning stations in the mobile facility, which meets all safety standards, from proper ventilation to fireproof curtains.
It took just seven days for three college instructors and three electrical technology students to install the welding bays and electrical system.
“This has been a great opportunity for me to practice some hands-on skills that I have never done before,” said Hal Treat, who had been displaced from his job as a brick mason and has just graduated from FVCC with an associate of applied science degree in electrical technology.
The welding trailer will be used to support other community and technical colleges Montana. FVCC is also working with Norco and Valley Welding, the two primary distributors of welding suppliers in the state, to hold career days and welding certification testing.
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