- Associated Press - Sunday, July 31, 2016

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - Local businesses and college officials are discussing programs that could increase the number of trained welders over the next couple years.

The Southeast Alabama Workforce Development Council met at the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce listened to grant proposals from colleges within the Alabama Community College System, the Dothan Eagle (https://bit.ly/2acmxZx) reported. The meeting was held on Tuesday.

The council is made up of business and college officials within the eight-county Region 10 Workforce Development Council of Alabama.

The state’s community college system is seeking funds to expand area welding and robotic programs for both dual enrollment students and traditional college students.

The funds are provided through a more than $7 million appropriation by the Alabama Legislature for such workforce development-related initiatives and expected to be awarded in October, officials said.



Representatives from each of the colleges said their affected programs could benefit from increased equipment in order to meet the needs for construction, maintenance and repair jobs. Most are planned for expansion in 2017.

Dean Mitchell, executive director of the Dothan chamber, said more than 200 regional employers rely on wielding for daily operations. He said statistics show there were 10,500 welding jobs in Alabama in 2012, and the need for welders expect to increase by at least 15 percent statewide by 2022.

The hourly wage for some welding positions that require a high school diploma start at $13.72 in Alabama in 2014, according to the Alabama Department of Labor. Some welding positions requiring some form of vocational training started at an hourly wage of $12.82.

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