- Associated Press - Monday, October 19, 2015

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - Caterpillar Inc. employees visited Manual Academy on Friday to do a little in-class welding.

The company held an all-day camp to provide students with hands-on welding training with demonstrations by Caterpillar welders.

“The idea was to expose students to welding,” said Tony Rice, a Caterpillar employee who runs projects for the firm.

“Four years ago, Caterpillar donated materials to Manual for the metal class here. It started out as a one-time donation but turned into a collaboration,” he said.

“Some students will look at welding as a career. Others will find it a way to get further involved in manufacturing,” said Rice.

Caterpillar routinely provides surplus equipment to the school including hand tools, grinders and helmets, he said.

Manufacturing technology instructor Andrew Rice, Tony’s brother, referred to a “great partnership, “noting that Caterpillar’s “East Peoria LL (building) has adopted us.”

In his seventh year as a Manual instructor, Andrew Rice said there were between 100 and 130 students involved in industrial arts classes at the school. “In the last three years, we’ve seen a greater interest from students in pursuing industrial careers,” he said.

Manual junior Emilio Tamayo, 17, is one of those that looks to make welding a career. “I plan to join the military first and then be a welder like my father,” he said.

The Caterpillar visit is “a chance to learn more about welding,” said Tamayo.

Keith Herman, facility welding engineer at Caterpillar’s Building LL in East Peoria, said stirring interest in welding and other industrial career paths is increasingly important - not just to provide jobs for young people but to serve industry.

Jobs may not be in demand right now during the downturn that Caterpillar finds itself in but, by 2020, the American Welding Society estimates there could be a shortage of as many as 290,000 skilled workers, said Herman.

“The average welder is 55. With people retiring, the need will be there,” he said.


Source: (Peoria) Journal-Star, https://bit.ly/1YEcZph


Information from: Journal Star, https://pjstar.com

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