The American Welding Society (AWS) announced on April 28 that The Lincoln Electric Co. will donate $300,000 to the AWS Foundation to help relieve a nationwide shortage of welders. In association with this donation, Lincoln and the AWS Foundation will collaborate on new marketing initiatives to promote welding careers and help bolster the ranks of welders.
According to AWS and other industry research, the average age of a welder is in the mid-fifties. Fewer graduates entering the profession, coupled with the continuing retirement of experienced welders, has led to a shortage of skilled welders that could weaken the U.S. manufacturing sector and overall economy.
In addition, this donation will support the AWS Foundations Welder Workforce Development Program. The foundation launched the program in 2006 to address the critical need for recruitment and specialized training of entry-level welders while supporting industry workforce needs. It is an essential component of the AWS Foundation's $10 million capital campaign, Welding for the Strength of America, which is aimed at facilitating programs, scholarships and other initiatives in support of the welding industry. At year-end 2007, the AWS Foundation had raised $2.6 million toward its campaign effort.
In addition, funds will support the foundations Solutions Opportunity Squad, which is made up of new AWS staff individuals who consult with and build strategies for end users and welding educational institutions. They will also support local AWS Sections, businesses and other organizations that have specific workforce development needs.
"The shortage of welders is one of the most important issues facing our industry. It is absolutely critical that we make motivated, organized and responsible individuals aware that welding is a safe and rewarding career option," said Richard Seif, senior vice president, Global Marketing, Lincoln Electric, and AWS Foundation board trustee.