AdvanceSC Grant Funds Program for Pipefitters
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 7/9/2008
CONTACT: PAUL PHELPS, 646-1405
(By Lisa Garrett)
PENDLETON --- On any given Sunday you can pick up a local newspaper’s classified section and see at least five to six ads for pipefitters. “It’s written proof of the increasing demand for these highly skilled, yet hard-to-find professionals in the welding industry,” said Paul Phelps, program coordinator for the Welding Department.
At present none of the technical colleges in the State offers a degree or diploma program for pipefitting. “There’s an enormous need in the industry. Those who are trained are retiring every day, and there isn’t a specialized curriculum to prepare the future workforce,” said Phelps.
Things will change in the fall of 2009 – AdvanceSC awarded Tri-County a $250,000 grant to create another career path by designing and implementing a program for qualified pipefitters (welders (MIG and TIG) and gas and arc welding). The grant money will be used for equipment ($200,000) and $50,000 for training and development and curriculum set up.
Pipefitters cut, thread, bend and prepare to be welded joints, rig and route pipes, said Phelps. “It’s very specialized and jobs are in extreme demand.” Currently most pipefitters are taught on the job, he said. There are weld classes in the State welding curricula labeled pipefitting, but they fall short in covering all aspects of pipefitting, he said. Currently there are no programs training pipefitters in the state.
This grant supports the collaboration of the College with the Anderson School Districts 1 – 5, Pickens County School District, Oconee County School District, Hamilton Career Center, BJ Skelton Career Center, Williamston Career and Technology Center and Hamilton Westside Extension Campus. “The high schools can serve as feeders for our program. Counselors and teachers will make students aware of the program as an additional career path. It’s an option for students who may not want to enter welding but are more suited to pipefitting.”
Pipefitters are highly sought after and are well paid, said Phelps. “We’re looking at a year-long diploma program that would begin in the fall of 2009. Grads could find employment with mechanical contractors, manufacturing maintenance departments – really anywhere that pipe is run,” he said.